James Farkas holds an injured eagle he rescued. The starving bird was being attacked by several turkey vultures on a beach in north Nanaimo. In a strange twist of fate, Farkas had been rescued from the same beach months earlier when he fell from a cliff and broke his femur. (Photo submitted)

James Farkas holds an injured eagle he rescued. The starving bird was being attacked by several turkey vultures on a beach in north Nanaimo. In a strange twist of fate, Farkas had been rescued from the same beach months earlier when he fell from a cliff and broke his femur. (Photo submitted)

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

A man who fell off a cliff and had to be rescued happened to end up back in the very same place, this time as the rescuer.

James Farkas, who fell down an embankment on Nanaimo’s Bayshore Drive late last summer, was back there last week and helped an eagle facing near-certain death get a shot at soaring local skies again.

Farkas was visiting friends the evening of May 12 when one of his friends noticed some unusual activity on the beach the house overlooks.

“So I went down to the beach and I seen all these turkey vultures just hammering on this eagle, like, seven or eight of them. Just beating on him,” Farkas said. “So I go down to the beach and chase the turkey vultures away and he had a broken wing, so I corralled him, took my shirt off, put it over him, picked him up and brought him home.”

The eagle had been forced into a tide pool and had little strength left, but Farkas was surprised at how calm the bird was once he had his shirt around him and the bird even let him stroke its head.

Because of the time of night, there were no wildlife services he could contact, so he called the Nanaimo RCMP dispatch, which contacted WildAID, a volunteer organization operated by Lorinne Anderson and her husband Norm Snihur, a helicopter pilot who uses his aircraft to quickly move wild animals to wildlife treatment and rehabilitation centres.

Anderson arrived within half an hour of Farkas’s call to the RCMP dispatcher.

“That was awesome of the dispatcher,” he said. “They get a lot of credit for knowing [who to call].”

In a strange coincidence, the site where Farkas spotted the eagle was the same place he was rescued after falling down the cliff and breaking his femur in September.

“I got rescued and then I sort of had to pay it forward and rescue the bird,” he said.

Anderson brought the bird to her home and contacted Rob Hope, raptor care manager at OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) in Vancouver, who advised her to feed the starving bird quail, which she keeps in stock at her home in Nanaimo for rescued raptors. Snihur flew the eagle to OWL the following morning where it is recovering.

Anderson said it was one of the easier raptor rescues.

“Jim had done all the hard work,” Anderson said. “Our part in this was actually quite small. Sometimes we’re the one climbing down and fetching it up. This one was real easy. He had it in his living room.”

The eagle is recovering, but its fate is yet to be known. The bird has a broken right shoulder that is healing, Hope said, and has a better than 50 per cent chance of being returned to Nanaimo and released.

“He’s a sub-adult bird. Upon admission, he was basically starving,” Hope said.

It will be a few more weeks before it will be known if the bones heal well enough to support flight. Nothing medically, otherwise, can be done, but the bird is eating and gaining weight and strength.

Hope said OWL staff unwrap the wing each week to stretch it, check the healing and re-wrap it.

“It will be four to five weeks before it heals good enough that we can move him into a flight cage,” Hope said.

The eagle’s natural disposition toward humans and his natural aggressive instincts have also returned along with his weight and strength and Hope reports he is a “completely different bird” from when he arrived.

“Oh, he hates us. He hates us, but that’s what we want,” Hope said. “When we catch him to change his wraps and stuff, he’s biting and fighting and carrying on, but that’s the way we like it. We want these guys to show the will to survive and, of course, [seeing] us as not as their friends, but as their foe is actually what we want from them so that’s good.”

Anderson said, except in rare cases such as Farkas’s eagle rescue, it’s always better for people to call organizations such as WildAID before intervening when a wild animal is found in trouble.

WildAID helps raptors and other birds – they recently helped a great horned owl and a merganser chick – as well as other wild animals and unwanted wildlife such as raccoons and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 250-616-8888.

Farkas hopes to be present when the bird is released.

“[Anderson] asked me to text her the address where I caught him at so they could bring him to there for the release and I said, yeah, I want to be there when you let him go,” Farkas said.

READ ALSO: Rescue centre puts out call for food for eagles on Vancouver Island

READ ALSO: Society looking for Abbotsford homeless man who saved injured eagle found on highway



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grand Forks RCMP Cst. Eileen O’Mahony, left, and Grand Forks Fire/Rescue Dep. Chief Stephane Dionne report back to their departments at the scene of Tuesday’s single-vehicle rollover on Hwy. 3, west of Grand Forks. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Driver leaves Hwy. 3 rollover through broken window, west of Grand Forks

Grand Forks RCMP taped off the scene at around 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26

Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran in his Creston home. Hanging on the wall behind him is a logo of Kachin’s Manaw festival. Photo: Aaron Hemens
From Myanmar to Creston: The story of a refugee

In October 2007, Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran and his friends encountered a woman being sexually assaulted by two Myanmar soldiers.

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read