520 bridge's beloved bald eagle is struck and killed
Drivers who cross the Highway 520 bridge are mourning the loss Tuesday morning of a bald eagle that for years perched on the bridge's lampposts.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Drivers who cross the Highway 520 bridge are mourning the loss Tuesday morning of a bald eagle that for several years perched on the bridge's lampposts.
A King County Metro bus hit the eagle about 7:30 a.m., Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke said.
The driver had seen the bird in the distance and was in the middle of the bridge, traveling about 50 mph, when the eagle began flying in the same direction as the bus, Thielke said.
"The bird very, very suddenly took a turn and smashed into the windshield," cracking it, Thielke said. The driver kept going, and called the accident in shortly after, she said.
The state Department of Transportation picked up the eagle from the westbound lane of the western high rise, Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jamie Holter said.
The eagle had been known to cause traffic slowdowns as drivers admired the bird, Holter said.
Nicknamed "Eddie" by many, the eagle has a dedicated Twitter following, including an impersonator dubbed "The520Baldeagle."
On Tuesday afternoon, someone tweeted from that account, "We lost one of our own this morning. Thanks for all the well wishes. Despite the speculation, it wasn't me ... @The520Baldeagle."
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife disagrees.
Bill Hebner, an enforcement captain at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, says the bird that was killed was likely the male in a pair that nested at Seattle's Broadmoor Golf Club just south of the bridge and spent much of their time on the 520 lampposts. Hebner said the loss was "very tragic."
The pair had chicks this year, but the young are now old enough that they can survive independently of their parents, Hebner said.
The eagle was likely scooping a dead animal, such as a duck, off the road when it was hit, Hebner said. If an eagle gorges on the food, it becomes less agile and succumbs to accidents more easily, he said.
"I think the lesson learned here is, as motorists, whenever you see wildlife along the road ... be cautious, be defensive, slow down and know they will often do the unpredictable," Hebner said.
Although the bird's body was mangled, Hebner said, the Department of Fish and Wildlife salvaged many feathers, which will be sent to a repository in Denver and distributed to Native American tribes — a standard practice when a bald or golden eagle dies.
The community can take comfort in knowing that over the past few decades the state's eagle population has grown immensely.
"It used to be very rare to see a bald eagle," Hebner said, and now they're a common sight for drivers.
Jessie Van Berkel: 206-464-3192 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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