Thora the Golden Eagle

Thorondor was the King of Eagles of Middle-earth and presumably the greatest of all the Eagles in terms of size, with a wingspan measuring 180 feet.

That was the name first given to the injured golden eagle found during the fall migration along a fence line beside a country road near Milestone Saskatchewan about an hours drive southeast from Regina.

From her location and injuries it appears that she had a collision with a motor vehicle. It became apparent, through her recovery, that she was blind in both eyes from her injuries. As it is not unusual that birds regain their site after about six weeks when blindness is caused by head injuries, her treatment continued.

As she continued to improve, DNA testing was done to confirm the injured eagle was a female, and her name was shortened to “Thora”.

Thora seemed to have a will to live and under the care of Dr. Melanie Blanger, was fed with forceps by teasing the sides of her beak with the food. It took a while, but when she knew it was feeding time she tipped her head to the right and opened up her beak and reached for the food.

She was always very quiet and so calm around people most likely due to the fact that birds of prey are sight oriented. If you take their eyesight away, similar to hooding a falcon, they just sit quietly. Thora went to her first event in June and did fantastic as a static display.

During her recovery the focus was on her comfort and of course her food and no glove work was done with her as she could put her talons through a normal pair of gloves like it was butter. Thora was transported from Regina by willing volunteers, Debbie Chorneyko, a member of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan and her partner, who traveled through the night to arrive at Thora’s new home bright and early in the morning.

Thora came out of her transport box and was introduced to her new enclosure with Radical Raptors at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. On the second day, Gary and Angela began some glove work with her – first teaching her that she had food in her talons and convincing her to reach for it herself. By the end of the first week, she was eating on her own, stepping up to the glove and stepping back to the perch.

Thora continues to thrive, eating rabbits, chicken, beef and of course her favorite, chicken hearts. She manages to tear her food and feed herself and she is still calm and relatively gentle to pick up and move about.

From the left side of Thora, she appears to be completely normal however on the right, you can see that the eye is sunken in from a lens rupture. The vet debated removing that eye and putting in a prosthetic, or referring her to an opthamologist in Saskatoon however as they have a policy of euthanizing any wildlife that is non-releasable she choose instead to try to find a permanent home for her.

Because she had such a will to live, both the Saskatchewan government and the BC government agreed to issue a permit.

Although her age is unknown, she has gone through a molt and she does not appear to have any of the white feathers on the shoulders that would indicate that she is a youngster. Golden eagles, typically take five years to reach full adulthood and in general, mature eagles are dark with a golden nape while juvenile and immature birds have varying amounts of white in the tail and in the remiges (the flight feathers), which are gradually replaced by darker feathers as birds near adulthood. Adults are completely dark with faint, gray mottling in the tail feathers and remiges.

Even though Thora will never again get to live as a free bird, she has adjusted well to her captive life. She sits on her special log and gets plenty of sunshine, plenty of food which she eats herself giving her a sense of independence and she exercises her massive wings whenever she feels a good breeze.

As intelligent as Eagles are, she knows we mean her no harm and that she has found a home.