‘Best present ever’: Missing golden eagle found by owner in Co Wicklow

Bird, which had been missing for a week, found about 1km from owner’s home

Owner John Nugent: ‘I reckon he was probably flying free around the Kilcoole area and that he came back to land somewhere close to me.’ Photograph: John Nugent

Owner John Nugent: ‘I reckon he was probably flying free around the Kilcoole area and that he came back to land somewhere close to me.’ Photograph: John Nugent

 

A golden eagle which was lost for over a week was found by its owner in Co Wicklow on Thursday.

John Nugent, from Newcastle, said he found his 12-year-old eagle Kalin, caught in a tree about 1km from his home.

“I was out walking the usual route I would and I whistled as I normally do and had the food in my hand and just by fluke I heard a whistle back and I said ‘that’s my bird’,” Mr Nugent told The Irish Times.

“Once I saw him, he was chirping and trying to get off the branch. He hadn’t been there before, I had been checking the same route we walk every day, over and over again.

“I reckon he was probably flying free around the Kilcoole area and that he came back to land somewhere close to me.

“It’s like Santa Claus delivered the best present ever, but I’m more happy for the bird because he’s home safe.

The eagle had been bred in captivity in Austria, and previously had been a display bird.

Mr Nugent has had the bird since last November and had been training him to fly and return home. Last Wednesday, Kalin managed to untie his leash and fly off, and had not been seen by his owner since.

Mr Nugent owns two eagles, Kalin, and an American Bald eagle. When he is training either of the birds to fly they wear a GPS location tracker. However, Kalin had not been wearing the tracker when he flew off as he was resting.

“All the professional people told me he would be back and when I picked him up today they said ‘don’t go near him, he hasn’t eaten for seven or eight days, he’ll be aggressive’,” Mr Nugent added.

“But he was so happy to see me, he wouldn’t release my hand when I caught him.”

Mr Nugent said the bird had lost almost a pound in weight since he had gone missing.