Archive: Bald Eagle Survives Train Collision in Monroe, Finds Sanctuary at Detroit Zoo

Female Bald Eagle Joins Mr. America and Flash

February 13, 2020

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

There is really nothing that unites America quite like bald eagles and comeback stories – and here at the Detroit Zoo, we have both. A female bald eagle, who is believed to have collided with a train last year, is now thriving in her new Zoo habitat.

Before she arrived this past October, the bald eagle was discovered injured in a Wendy’s parking lot in Monroe, Michigan, after a citizen reported witnessing a train and bald eagle collide a week prior.

Due to her severe wing injury, the female bald eagle, who is estimated to be around 4 years old, will never be able to fly again, and so she couldn’t be returned to the wild after receiving veterinary care for her injury. The DZS has a long history of rescuing wildlife, and frequently provides sanctuary to wild or exotic animals who are injured, abandoned, surrendered or confiscated.

“We’re happy that we’re able to offer her a home here at the Detroit Zoo,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “We’re glad to report that she is settling in very well.”

The bird, named Captain Marvel, joins two other rescued bald eagles at the Zoo, Flash and Mr. America, in their American Grasslands habitat. Mr. America arrived in 2017 from southern Indiana after he flew into a power line and injured his wing, rendering him non-releasable.  Flash came to the Zoo in 2009 from Kodiak Island, Alaska, after he suffered a severe electric shock.

Detroit Zoo visitors can identify the newcomer by her brighter beak and her head, which has more brown plumage compared to the others.  Her head should turn completely white in the next year or two when she reaches adulthood. Adult bald eagles have white heads and tails with dark brown bodies and wings. The new female weighs just under 10 pounds, second only to Flash, who weighs just over 10 pounds. Mr. America, the smallest bird in the habitat, can often be seen perched next to Captain Marvel.

“Female bald eagles tend to display more assertive behaviors, so she could end up being in charge in the eagles’ habitat,” said Carter.

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) earns its name from the Old English word “balde,” meaning white, referencing the distinctive white feathers covering the head and tail.  Bald eagles use their feathers to balance – when they lose a feather on one wing, they will also lose a matching feather on the other side.