"Beauty and the Beak" - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

"Beauty and the Beak"

ST. MARIES, Idaho - Caretakers are hoping an injured eagle is on the road to recovery.  It's not duct tape, but glue biologists hope to use to help repair the injured raptor's beak.  First at quick biology lesson on why beaks are so important to birds.  They help birds catch their food, tear it apart then eat it.  Taking that away from a bird can mean the difference between life and death.

It's been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Bald eagles are known by many as symbols of national pride and power, but not this one.  Beauty the bald eagle was found shot with the top part of her beak missing and starving to death in an Alaskan landfill 3 years ago.  It prompted a biologist in North Idaho to adopt the bird using a simple philosophy.

"If humans can do this to a bird, then humans should fix it."  Jane fink Cantwell told us by phone.  Cantwell runs the raptor rescue group that is helping Beauty.  They first hoped part of beauty's beak would grow back but that didn't happen forcing them to feed beauty by hand.  Beauty is one of 20 bald eagles being held at her sanctuary for birds of prey.  Now, Cantwell and others have assembled a team of dentists, vets and mechanical engineers to produce a prosthetic beak they hope can give beauty a new lease on life.

"The procedure's only been attempted a handful of times in North America." explains Cantwell.

The procedure is risky but so are the consequences of inaction.  Cantwell says if the bionic beak doesn't work Beauty might have to be euthanized, but Cantwell is optimistic putting the odds of success around 90 percent.  After the procedure Cantwell is hoping to use the eagle on educational tours.  Beauty now in the eye of the beholder and in the arms of humans hoping to make a difference and restore a symbol of America.

Cantwell says a series of procedures will be required to adhere the bionic beak.  She plans to start them later this month.  We'll keep you posted.

Anthony Gomes

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