Bald eagle gets fake beak

A poacher shot the beak off this bald eagle three years ago, and it was starving to death. But an engineer made her a fake beak and it seems to be working.
Nate Calvin, an engineer from Boise in Idaho, designed the new beak, which will eventually be replaced with a permanent tougher one.

Jane Fink Cantwell who found the bird scrounging for food and slowly starving at a landfill in Alaska said: "A bullet had to be removed from her curved upper beak, leaving her tongue and sinuses exposed, with a stump useless for grasping food. "Eating with her beak was like using one chopstick. She also had trouble drinking and couldn’t preen her feathers."

Link (Via Arbroath)



  1. A “thank you” on behalf of the thousands of people who now have a spiffy new user icon.

  2. Better than it was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.
    (ng ng ng ng ng ng ng ng ng vom vom vom vom vom vom vom)

    Wow. What a title sequence.

  3. Oh, so it is working!
    Splendid, praise the workers.

    Not only does technology taketh and then giveth, but humans too. The juxtaposition of the fucking bastard who shot her, to the loving folk who healed her shows the range of humanity’s temperaments… I mean, really. If you’re not going to eat the damn thing, don’t shoot it. I’m not against shooting birds, I like me some quail, but nobody eats eagle and that guy sure wasn’t going to.

  4. In all fairness to the hunter, Mr. Cheney thought it was his hunting partner when he pulled the trigger, not a bald eagle.

    I’m sure the eagle will issue a profuse apology when he has fully recovered.

  5. “Some critics question such an extraordinary effort to save one bird that is no longer on the endangered species list. ”

    I would guess compassion is a foreign concept to these people. Ugh.

  6. The rescue centre on Vancouver Island (should be but it appears to be inaccessible now) in Errington also has a baldie with a shot-out beak. LIkewise they’ve been experimenting with prosthetics for several years. Guess there must be some underground ‘sport’ of debeaking them by firearm. How nice…

    It’s a tricky engineering problem since eagle have quite strong jaw muscles and the beak needs to be light, tough, non-toxic, attached properly, and to not interfere with ‘normal’ behaviour.

  7. must research that,I know there have been a number of cases globally, some with sophisticated materials. How is the local death fungus, BTW?

  8. Poor thing, picking in the garbage. Couldn’t preen herself. Still trying to be alive. God, that just twists the knife.

    I’d say people suck, but people saved her, too.

  9. is it just me or does that artificial beak look like a rubber toy glued on with epoxy than it does a serious attempt at reconstructional surgery? what’s up with the extra set of nostrils?

    at least its working…poor bird…

  10. #12:

    They have to put that in there. If they cant’ even be bothered to try and make up an opposing view point, how can they be considered a balanced news outlet?

  11. I’ve had a little experience caring for birds and the beaks regrow, rather like fingernails or claws… Hopefully this little guy will be able to grow his back. Hope so.

  12. I’ve read other comments about this story complaining that this was a misuse of resources, misplaced priorities and so on.

    Sometimes it’s just good to help a suffering creature. Sometimes a story like that can help to humanize everybody a little more.

    I read about the procedure to install the beak, and at one point the bird freaked out and tore off its restraints, and flapped up to a perch. Everybody just stayed calm, and waited, and then they gently coaxed the bird down until it came back down so they could finish the procedure. The bird was fully conscious the whole time; so it had to override its instincts and trust these people. Even after it had freaked out completely once.

    Just when you think Darth Cheney has finally enveloped the universe in the Dark Side, a story like this comes along.

  13. “Some critics question such an extraordinary effort to save one bird that is no longer on the endangered species list. ”

    Why are we saving birds when we could be helping inner city children?

    Why are we having afterschool programs for inner city children when we could be stopping rape in Darfur?

    Why do we care about Darfur when we could be curing cancer?

    Sometimes, it’s just best not to prioritize “good works” and just DO them instead.

  14. The procedure was first tested on a destitute duck, who, when questioned about the cost of the surgery on a common mallard replied “Put it on my bill”.

  15. Wonder what the plan is in the long run? – do beaks grow, like fingernails? So – hopefully this plastic thing will fall off at the right moment. Or else the bird will pop in once in a while for running repairs?

  16. I think this story is great but did want to point out that beak restoration for eagles has been ongoing for sometime. The first restoration that I know of was conducted back in 2005 or 2006 on Vancouver Island where a Mr. Fred Leak of Turner Dental Labs, a local Dentist (Sorry, I do not know his name) as well as many others who dedicated countless hours to saving and pioneering this wonderful service to eagles who have been harmed by the immaturity of mankind.

    Admittedly the newer beak pictured here is more cosmetically appealing, but it was my understanding that Mr. Leak et al, did develop a beak very similar to the one pictured in the story I am replying to. They should get credit where credit is due….in academia, when one writes about another persons concept or theory, the cite them properly. The same should account for journalism of any sort.

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