ROCKY BAY FIRST NATION - A 73-year-old Rocky Bay First Nation man is spending a lot of time this summer caring for an eagle rescued from the local dump.
A Beardmore friend of Harold Michon's brought the bird to him a month ago after noticing the eagle in distress over a period of days.
Having tended to sick and injured animals and birds for decades, Michon had initial suspicions about what might be wrong.
"After first looking at it, I first thought of lead poisoning. Then I started checking his body, his wings and so on, and found an obstruction in his throat. It turned out to be a bottle cap, the serrated kind."
Michon inserted his fingers in the bird's throat and gently removed the cap, seeing as "he was pretty weak, there wasn't much of a fight between him and I, but he pinched me with his beak."
He said he struggled for four days to keep the bird alive, but finally became convinced it was going to survive.
For several weeks, he's kept the adult eagle in a large, sheltered cage and fed him a diet mostly comprised of fish, but on Monday he gave him a dead rabbit for the first time.
"Right now he's fantastic. We had our usual meeting this morning and he flapped his wings for me. He's circling me and it's almost time for him to go, but he doesn't have his full strength yet."
Michon expects the bird will be ready to be set free within a few weeks. He'll know it's time to release him, he said, if he passes "the final test: a live kill."
He plans to leave a rabbit in the cage overnight and check the next day to see if the eagle has done what eagles need to do to stay alive in the wild.
This is the first time Michon has nursed an injured eagle, but said he's previously helped hawks, owls, bears, caribou, deer and moose.
"I kind of used to do this with my grandfather. We had the same personality. I was with him...you couldn't get me away from him. He was such an amazing man, I was learning 24/7 from him."