Aquila’s Story: A Spotlight on The Sunriver Nature Center
If you’ve been to the Sunriver Nature Center sometime in the past few years, you have undoubtedly noticed Aquila, the beautiful golden eagle that calls this place her home. With her calm temperament, Aquila has been the star of many shows despite being almost completely blind. Aquila’s story is just one of the many things that make the Sunriver Nature Center so unique.
She is an attention getter, big and beautiful. Aquila is completely comfortable in the presence of visitors, handlers, and even during veterinary checkups. She loves the attention and if you talk to her, she will often talk back and stretch her wings while walking in circles. It is hard to believe that when she was just under a year old, nearly 30 years ago now, Aquila was struck by a car in Christmas Valley, Oregon. The accident left her without a rear toe (hallux) on her left foot and almost completely blind when her sight was limited to just a small spec in her left eye. After the accident, she was brought to the Sunriver Nature Center for immediate care. She spent days there during her initial recovery, but eventually went on to Raptors of the Rockies in Montana where she participated in numerous educational programs throughout the years. In 2009, the Sunriver Nature Center was looking to bring on a new eagle. One became available from a facility in Montana that was closing. Surprisingly, the eagle that needed a new home was none other than Aquila. And so her Central Oregon story came full circle and she returned once again to the Sunriver Nature Center.
Aquila loves her home in Sunriver and welcomes every chance to interact with visitors. Her happiness, or degree of stress, can be measured by her tendency to preen herself while participating in large group presentations, propensity to talk, habit of picking at her toy newspaper bundle, and her sleeping patterns. Many are surprised by Aquila’s age. Eagles in captivity can easily reach ages of 40+ with the special care they receive. Though she appears to be quite large, about the size of a bald eagle, Aquila only weighs about 10.5lbs. Her bones are hollow and she has a ton of feathers! People often ask why she lives in such a small enclosure. Although it looks small to us, she is perfectly content. Because Aquila cannot see, this amount of space provides fewer things for her to have to memorize. She knows her surroundings so well that she moves around with ease, as if she could see everything around her. Though she has amazing hearing, her blindness is evident by her inability to maneuver obstacles when let loose in the Nature Center’s botanical garden or in the larger flight enclosure.
Aquila’s story is just one of the many things that make the Sunriver Nature Center so unique. We encourage you to stop by and discover something new. There is nothing sweeter than the oooohs and aaaahs of a kid experiencing it for the first time, or rediscovering their old favorite all over again.
Upcoming Nature Center Events
Featuring exhibits, speakers, plant sale, hikes and more!
Every Saturday May 24-August 30
*Photos courtesy of Doug Bowser. Aquila's story courtesy of Jennifer Curtis from the Sunriver Nature Center.