Rare treat for tourists as bald eagle pays daily visits to zoo specimen

Every now and then an animal story comes along to touch people’s hearts. This story involves two bald eagles, one wild and presumed to be male; the other a captive female named Olivia.

The wild eagle (at right, and in the video below) has for the past 12 days been observed perched in a sycamore tree above the eagle exhibit at Southern California’s Orange County Zoo. That’s where Olivia, who has an eye injury and cannot fend for herself in the wild, is being cared for.

Since wild bald eagles are not commonly seen in the region; and since both birds appear to have been squawking to one another for nearly two weeks, this seems to be much more than pure coincidence.

“It’s rare for the zoo to have a bald eagle in the exhibit and a wild one outside,” Donald Zeigler, manager of the small zoo, which is within Irvine Regional Park, told the Los Angeles Times.

Naturally, bird enthusiasts have been flocking to the zoo daily in the hope of catching a glimpse of the wild eagle, and to judge for themselves whether a bond might exist between these majestic, white-crowned birds of prey.

“He’s been showing up in a tree 15 feet from the female eagle like a creature of habit,” said Linda Jones, a wildlife photographer who has made several visits with her camera and long lens. “It’s so cute. My guess is that there aren’t any female eagles in this area.”

Is the wild eagle courting Olivia or merely seeking company? Nobody knows for sure.

Said Orange County Parks spokeswoman Marisa O’Neil: “They’ve definitely been squawking back and forth, but who know what goes through an eagle’s mind?”

So popular is this new attraction that OC Parks is holding a contest to name the wild eagle on its Facebook page, with the winner receiving an annual pass to the zoo.

— Image of wild eagle courtesy of OC Parks