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Viewers watch helplessly as eaglet dies in nest

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VANCOUVER—Thousands of Internet users who flocked to a B.C. conservation group’s website to watch live cams aimed at eagle nests could only stare on in helpless horror as an 11-day old eaglet died right before their eyes.

Karen Bills with the Hancock Wildlife Foundation says the eaglet, nicknamed “Echo,” somehow got tangled up in his mother’s feathers last week and died soon after.

“It was quite gruesome to watch the video with [the mother] hopping around the nest and trying to shake him loose,” Bills said yesterday.

She said the heartbreaking ordeal went on for a couple of hours.

Echo’s mother even took to the skies to try and free her eaglet, but returned to the Hornby Island nest when that plan proved unsuccessful.

Much to the dismay of viewers from around the world, Echo’s lifeless body fell to the earth when his mother again took to the skies a short time later.

Bills said Echo’s body was retrieved by noted eagle expert David Carrick soon after.

“I looked under the eagle tree and found Echo lying on the ground,” Carrick wrote on Hancock’s website.

“I picked him up. He was soft and warm but absolutely still—no signs of life.

“Just when we realized that Echo was managing very well in dealing with his big sister and was getting his share of the food, this totally unexpected tragedy occurred,” he added.

Bills said she and the site’s viewers still are trying to figure out what exactly happened.

“There was nothing sticky on him. It’s just the strangest thing,” she said.

“We just can’t really account for what happened that day.”

Hancock’s website has been flooded with pictures, videos, and even eulogies in Echo’s honour.

“We will miss you, Echo,” said one user who also posted two poems along with a bevy of sad-faced emotions.

“I am completely heartbroken,” said another. “I’ve gone from the height of happiness to the depths of despair in a short 11 days.”

While Echo’s loss was felt by all “eagle-holics,” as Bills called them, she said another eagle hatched in a Delta nest on the very same day.

“We had life and death the same day,” she noted.

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