A man in Wales had the shock of his life when he found himself staring at a giant golden eagle above his back garden. Andrew Smith had gone outside to empty his compost bin when he saw the massive bird of prey stuck in a tree behind his house. The bird, with a wing span of nearly 7ft and weighing 16lbs, had escaped from an aviary on a nearby farm three days earlier. Police had warned the public not to approach the “large and powerful bird” when its whereabouts was still unknown, while hawking experts said it was capable of killing cats or small dogs.
But the bird’s tether had got it tangled up in a tree behind Mr Smith’s house on Bridgend Road in Pontycymer, near Bridgend. It was eventually rescued by firefighters. Wife Nicola Rees-Smith said as a rescue operation got underway: “It is in our garden at the moment and the fire brigade are trying to get it down. It’s very, very big. It keeps flapping its wings but it’s got its leg stuck in the tree. My husband went out to put the compost out and he noticed it. “It’s much bigger than any bird I’ve ever seen.”
The female golden eagle flew off from a farm in the area with its jesses [thin leather straps] and line still attached. Mrs Rees-Smith said she thought it may have been stuck in the tree for two days. Griff Griffiths, owner of the Welsh Hawking Centre in Barry, said there were less than 10 golden eagles in South Wales. “They can kill foxes and things of that size,” he said. “It is extremely unlikely to attack a human because its instinct is to attack things which move on four legs like rabbits. It could attack a small dog though.”
The bird’s owner, Richard Jenkins, who keeps the eagle at his farm as part of a species breeding programme, said he feared it would never return. He said: “It feels a lot like winning the lottery because I really didn’t think I would see her back safe and sound again.” The 51-year-old thanked the emergency services for their help in rescuing the bird. He said: “They have done a great job of saving the life of and endangered bird and I am just so grateful.”