Bald eagle found after flying off during demonstration

Hiker spots Sequoia at Rancho San Antonio Preserve on Friday

Sequoia, the female bald eagle from the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo, who went missing after she "wandered off" during a flight demonstration was found unharmed at Rancho San Antonio Preserve on Friday, zoo executive John Aikin said.

A female hiker, who wants to remain anonymous Aikin said, found Sequoia at Rancho San Antonio Preserve at 9:30 a.m.

"The hiker called the Junior Museum & Zoo and we connected by cellphone. She texted me a picture of Sequoia sitting in a field of grass, and I said, 'OK, how do I get to you?' and she guided me in by cell because I had to hike in," Aikin said.

The hiker waited with the 27-year, 10-month-old bald eagle until Aikin could locate the two.

"As soon as I got up there she said (Sequoia) just flew away two minutes ago, but I found her soaring over a canyon near by, so I ... blew my whistle and she saw me and she came right to me," Aikin said.

Sequoia, who is back at the zoo, was not injured, but "very hungry," Aikin said.

"She lost about 300 grams, but other than that she's doing fine. She doesn't have a feather out of place," he said.

Aikin said he is thankful to the hiker who found Sequoia and to everyone who helped with locating her.

"We got more than two dozen people calling in about bald eagle sightings," he said. "We got some very concrete leads and they were very helpful."

Sequoia, who was found shot in the wild when she was 4 months old and has a paralyzed tail, has spent almost her entire life meeting people and helping the zoo teach about bald eagles, Aikin said.

She went missing after she flew off during a flight demonstration in Byxbee Park in Palo Alto on Monday.

"She actually wanders off with a little bit more frequency," Aikin said. "We generally get her back within that day, sometimes the next day and sometimes three days later, but when we lose track of her signal that's when we worry."

Zoo officials weren't able to pick up a signal from Sequoia's miniature radio transmitter that was attached to her tail during the demonstration for more than 24 hours.

"We were able to keep track of her through Tuesday and lost signal Tuesday afternoon," Aikin said.

Sequoia was last seen heading west from Interstate 280 and Page Mill Road to Portola Valley.

"We got a number of calls because of the press attention yesterday from people as far away as Sausalito to south San Jose that they saw a bald eagle. We're following up on the best leads," he said.

Two volunteers with radio receivers were searching for Sequoia, and the Palo Alto Airport Association president had offered to do flyovers to locate her, Aikin said.

Related content:

Junior Museum bald eagle returns home

Bald eagle plants herself in Palo Alto

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


7 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Although its sad that Palo Alto has lost a beloved Bald Eagle, maybe after 27 years cooped up in a small zoo, Sequoia
just wants to finally experience the wild, wild west!

21 people like this
Posted by NoLongerWild
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 8:41 pm

From KTVU report:

"She was originally found shot in the wild, and has a paralyzed tail. So, the gunshot wound damaged her hip. And she can't use her tail. And that means even though she can fly, she cannot manipulate well enough to catch prey, and also in stiff wind, she has a hard time stabilizing herself," explains museum director John Aikin.

16 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:12 am

She doesn't stay cooped up, the zoo lets her fly free. She is unable to catch prey herself and usually returns to the zoo. The zookeepers at the PA zoo are really conscientious.

Good luck! She is a magnificent bird.

11 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:08 pm

I love a happy ending.

4 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I enjoy a happy ending.

6 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Thank you for this heartwarming article. It really brightened my day seeing the picture of this magnificent bird and knowing she was back home with those who care for her. I had no idea bald eagles lived such long lives.

15 people like this
Posted by Relieved
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2016 at 3:28 pm

So glad she was found. Being unable to effectively hunt, she could have starved to death.

After being hungry for so long, she was probably very amenable to being captured!

10 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 27, 2016 at 12:34 am

Many of the beloved critters at the Jr Museum and zoo have been given new leases on life. Glad she has found her way home unharmed. 300g is a big weight loss, though. Hope she's back to speed soon!

1 person likes this
Posted by BirdInHand
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2016 at 11:57 am

>> she "wandered off" during a flight demonstration in Byxbee Park in Palo Alto on Monday

Yeah, I have seen this impressive eagle and the two guys playing "eagle catch" out at Byxbee.

It's clear the eagle is smarter than humans because flying away the noise of the airplanes
and the sewage stench from the treatment plant it had the good sense to fly away.

We Palo Altans ought to have the good sense to shut down the airport and improve
the sewage treatment plant so that it doesn't make hikers in the baylands want to hurl.

4 people like this
Posted by Ooooh, is that why?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 2, 2016 at 12:05 pm

@BirdInHand, I understand your desire to craft this story into something more fitting to your topical interests, but it fails the logic test.
Why didn't the bird fly away all those hundreds of other times they were out there?

I feel the reasons you theorized are likely untrue. If they were true, it would be common, and not a VERY uncommon thing for the eagle to fly away.
Following your connection, it actually proves the eagle prefers the airport area due to him repeatedly staying there and not flying away hundreds and hundreds of times over the years.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Peek inside the fine-dining Selby's, opening in Redwood City this summer
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 4,742 views

If you do nothing else, do These Three Things
By Sherry Listgarten | 29 comments | 1,948 views

Premarital and Couples: "You're Not Listening to Me!" may mean "I don't feel heard."
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,287 views

Lentil Brownies
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 409 views

Finding Balance
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 238 views


Vote now!

It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.