An American bald eagle died in Madison Park early Monday morning, after being electrocuted by live power lines along 42nd Avenue East.
The sound of what Nancy and Paul Dobrin thought was an explosion woke the longtime Madison Park couple around 4:45 a.m. on July 16.
“It was a very sad day yesterday,” said Nancy Dobrin during a July 17 interview with MPT, “and what happened was, we heard the boom, and my other neighbor heard it and she thought it was a bomb.”
Seattle City Light spokesperson Scott Thomsen tells MPT the agency received the report shortly before 5 a.m. Monday, and responded to the scene, a few blocks west of Lake Washington.
“I looked out, and I saw this crow out in our front yard,” Dobrin said, “and he was eating a fish, and I thought, ‘What is going on?’”
City Light’s initial assessment is that the eagle had caught a fish and was attempting to perch on top of the power pole when it made contact with two wires, “creating a short circuit that killed the bird,” according to Thomsen.
A City Light wildlife biologist recovered the bird’s carcass and feathers, some of which were visibly stuck on the wires. The eagle was then turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Dobrins went out and spoke with the biologist, who shared his assessment with them. They also took several photos of the eagle.
“We couldn’t touch the feathers, even though I found four he didn’t get, and I have them in a bag,” said Nancy Dobrin, who hopes to be able to turn the feathers over to City Light or Fish and Wildlife.
“While neighbors said they have not seen eagle activity in the area before, City Light will be installing a conductor cover to prevent such instances in the future,” states Thomsen in an email to MPT.
“The wires are high,” Dobrin said, “and if they’re flying straight up from the water, getting their fish, then they run right into the wires — very rare. We’ve lived here 48 years, and it’s never happened.”
Madison Park resident Marie Bolster’s husband has been filming a family of eagles nesting near the 11th tee of the Broadmoor golf course since June, which she’s shared on Nextdoor (See the first below this article).
They checked on the nest the night of the electrocution incident, and confirmed all three eaglets were safe. The couple assessed the age of the dead eagle at around 3.
“In recent years, City Light has seen from 90-230 documented bird-related outages,” Thomsen states in his email. “More than 90 percent of them are caused by crows that peck among pole mounted equipment. We had two eagle fatalities in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. This is the first of 2018.”