British Columbia

'Hey, crap, this bird is alive!' Driver describes how bald eagle came back to life in back seat of his van

A driver got the shock of his life after a bald eagle he had picked up from the side of the road thinking it was dead suddenly woke up from its slumber en route to the conservation office.

Mark Rice recalls the moment his raptor recovery became a rescue after he picked up lifeless bird from road

Conservation officer Joel Kline was able to safely place the eagle in a secure kennel. (RCMP)

A driver who picked up what he thought was a dead bald eagle off a B.C. highway got quite the shock after the bird started to show signs of life in the back seat of his van en route to the conservation office.

Mark Rice told CBC he was driving north on Highway 97 when he stopped to scoop up the apparently lifeless bird because it was being attacked by crows.

While en route to 100 Mile House, Rice heard a rustle from the back of his van and looked back to see the eagle staring at him.

"I'm like, hey, crap, this bird is alive!" Rice wrote in an email to CBC News.

Mark Rice scooped the apparently lifeless bald eagle off the road when he saw it being pecked at by crows. After he drove off again, he heard a rustle and saw the bird staring back at him. (Mark Rice)

Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen with 100 Mile House RCMP said Rice drove his van into the detachment parking lot saying he had a bald eagle in the back of his van.

Nielsen said it's possible the eagle had a concussion of sorts and was completely knocked out before it revived in the moving vehicle.

"You can kind of imagine it, you know, sort of spreading its wings around and trying to get readjusted again and I mean, how much of an impact it would have to you in a vehicle [that] was moving down the highway ... you wouldn't want that there," Nielsen said.

The full-size adult eagle, which was placed in the back seat of the van, suddenly woke up from what is presumed to be a concussion-induced sleep while Rice was driving.   (RCMP )

Rice said RCMP contacted the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and an officer arrived quickly and transferred the bird to a crate.

"The bird got more lively and stood up for the first time and had its wings now partially up," said Rice, who took this as a good sign.

RCMP say the eagle is doing well, and will eventually head to a rehabilitation facility in the Lower Mainland. (RCMP)

Conservation officer Joel Kline was able to put a blanket around the full-size adult and it was taken to a local veterinarian to be examined.

There are plans to take the eagle to a rehabilitation centre in the Lower Mainland. 

Under the provincial Wildlife Act, it is illegal to possess a bald eagle in British Columbia. 

Rice says this isn't his first raptor rescue. He told CBC this is the second bald eagle he has found in distress and helped, the first being near Pitt Meadows, B.C. 

He said he also rescued an owl about three years ago, and it was rehabilitated at a Lower Mainland facility.


  • This story has been updated to correctly identify Mark Rice.
    Oct 23, 2020 2:19 PM PT

With files from Radio West


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