Truckie rescues wedge-tailed eagle after it slams into windscreen

It was a drizzly, overcast day, and Peter Rowlands was driving his truck along his usual route. The driver was kilometres from any sign of civilisation and completely out of mobile range when – out of nowhere – his windscreen shattered. “It was like a cannon,” he said. “You just know straight away it’s not a bloody sparrow or a seagull. I thought straight away: ‘Oh bloody hell, I’ve got one of those eagles’. “I hit the skids straight away.

I’m surmising he may have slid off the bonnet on to the ground because he was on the ground next to me.” Mr Rowlands said his immediate thoughts were to get the injured eagle off the road. “I certainly couldn’t leave it there and drive off,” he said. “I knew that birds, they lose their heat quickly when they get injured or in shock. I also knew that if you cover an eagle’s head that’ll settle them.” Mr Rowlands said he managed to cover the injured bird’s head with a coat, and then signalled down a passing mine operator to help transport the bird back to the nearby mine where they could contact an expert. “It was an awful experience, ” he said. “It’s knocked me about a bit, up scuttled me. I’m actually taking the week off work to get my head around it.

You know, emotionally and mentally. “I’m not a greenie, but human beings decimate the planet, and I’m in his territory, we’ve got to look after them. “There’s quite a bit of feedback about it congratulating me … but (I) was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Raptor Care North West’s Adam Hardy regularly collects injured raptors from around Tasmania’s North-West Coast. He said Mr Rowlands’ handling of the situation was “exceptional”. “I held onto the bird for a week, just to make sure,” he said. “But everything went without a hiccup.” He said it had been “extraordinary” to have Mr Rowlands there for the bird’s release on Monday. “I can’t think of anything better, to have someone who’s injured a bird to then see it recover and return. I certainly get a big thrill.” He said it was necessary to have trucks and cars on the roads, making eagle incidents almost inevitable.

He also pointed out there were good and bad ways to handle the situation. “Peter tells me he was only doing about 70 kilometres an hour, hence the lack of damage to the bird,” he said. “You’ve just got to slow down a bit … be a bit more diligent … don’t drive around on your phone. If these incidents do take place then contact someone like me as soon as possible.”

It was a drizzly, overcast day, and Peter Rowlands was driving his truck along his usual route.
The driver was kilometres from any sign of civilisation and completely out of mobile range when – out of nowhere – his windscreen shattered.

“It was like a cannon,” he said.
“You just know straight away it’s not a bloody sparrow or a seagull. I thought straight away: ‘Oh bloody hell, I’ve got one of those eagles’.

“I hit the skids straight away. I’m surmising he may have slid off the bonnet on to the ground because he was on the ground next to me.”
Mr Rowlands said his immediate thoughts were to get the injured eagle off the road.

“I certainly couldn’t leave it there and drive off,” he said. “I knew that birds, they lose their heat quickly when they get injured or in shock. I also knew that if you cover an eagle’s head that’ll settle them.” Mr Rowlands said he managed to cover the injured bird’s head with a coat, and then signalled down a passing mine operator to help transport the bird back to the nearby mine where they could contact an expert.

HAPPY ENDING: Hitting an endangered eagle shook Peter Rowlands to the core, but only a week later and the bird is back in the sky. Picture: Adam Hardy

“It was an awful experience, ” he said. “It’s knocked me about a bit, up scuttled me. I’m actually taking the week off work to get my head around it. You know, emotionally and mentally.

“I’m not a greenie, but human beings decimate the planet, and I’m in his territory, we’ve got to look after them. “There’s quite a bit of feedback about it congratulating me … but (I) was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Raptor Care North West’s Adam Hardy regularly collects injured raptors from around Tasmania’s North-West Coast.

He said Mr Rowlands’ handling of the situation was “exceptional”. “I held onto the bird for a week, just to make sure,” he said. “But everything went without a hiccup.”
He said it had been “extraordinary” to have Mr Rowlands there for the bird’s release on Monday.

“I can’t think of anything better, to have someone who’s injured a bird to then see it recover and return. I certainly get a big thrill.” He said it was necessary to have trucks and cars on the roads, making eagle incidents almost inevitable.

He also pointed out there were good and bad ways to handle the situation.
“Peter tells me he was only doing about 70 kilometres an hour, hence the lack of damage to the bird,” he said. “You’ve just got to slow down a bit … be a bit more diligent … don’t drive around on your phone.

If these incidents do take place then contact someone like me as soon as possible.”

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