Why Did The Eagle Land On Seattle Mariners Pitcher James Paxton?

    thanks to one remarkable bird, Thursday afternoon’s game was one of the most unusual home openers in major league baseball history

    While the national anthem was being played for Thursday afternoon’s home opener between the Minnesota Twins and the Seattle Mariners, a falconry-trained bald eagle unexpectedly attempted to land on Mariners starting pitcher james paxton .

    as you can see in the video, mr. Paxton was standing alone in left field with his cap against his chest when the eagle circled him several times before attempting to perch on his right shoulder.

    “I sort of dodged it so it wouldn’t hit me in the face. was, I think, trying to stand on my back,” said mr. paxton said later. “And then I thought, ‘Okay, if I can just stand up slowly, maybe just rest on my shoulder.’ my shoulder. But then when I stood up, it fell back to the ground.”

    mr. Paxton, a left-handed pitcher, was not injured by the eagle’s sharp claws.

    “the claws, I don’t think they pricked me or anything”, mr. paxton said. “They were a little sharp on my back. but I don’t think it has any scratches.”

    “The sharp points at the tip of [the eagle’s] talons always dull prior to their performances at major sporting events,” a spokesperson for the American Eagle Foundation said in a statement. The American Eagle Foundation, which trains and cares for the eagle, is a nonprofit public education and conservation organization dedicated to supporting rehabilitation, recovery, and breeding programs for bald eagles and other birds of prey.

    In the flyby, the eagle, whose name is “challenger,” seemed to mistake the pitcher, whose nickname is “big maple” (and who was the tallest thing standing on an empty playing field), for one of their handlers.

    “It wasn’t the first time I had seen a bald eagle,” said mr. paxton said. “But it’s the first time I’ve tried to land on myself. that was interesting. it was coming in handy for me. I’m like, ‘the guy is there and I’m not the eagle guy,’ but I guess this eagle got it confused.”

    challenger was meant to fly through the stadium as part of the opening ceremony and land on his guide’s arm near a large American flag.

    “The challenger simply thought the pitcher was one of his handlers standing near the great American team. flag in the gardens ready to catch him and give him a piece of salmon,” said the spokesman for the american eagle foundation.

    challenger is a 28 year old male bald eagle. the bald eagle, haliaeetus leucocephalus, is a large bird of prey found throughout north america (and is especially common in the seattle area, where several pairs nest). it is one of several species of sea eagles, living near vast open bodies of water that have many old trees available nearby for nesting and perching.

    challenger is the veteran of more than 350 free flight demonstrations at college sporting events and in major sports stadiums, arenas and dance halls, and has made hundreds more appearances and flights at schools and veterans’ homes. Some of his most viewed performances include 12 World Series games, five BCS National Championships, and dozens of other high-profile events. this was the challenger’s first public misjudgment.

    challenger is a wild-born eagle who was discovered after he was blown from his nest in louisiana during a storm in the spring of 1989 when he was just a few weeks old. he was rescued and hand-fed by some good-hearted people, but ended up imprinting on humans as a result. After being transferred to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, he was later transferred to Scottsboro, Alabama so that he could be hacked and released into Lake Guntersville when he was able to fly at 12-13 weeks of age. several attempts to release the young eagle into the wild were unsuccessful because it never realized it was an eagle and thus never learned to feed itself and nearly died as a result. After the third unsuccessful release attempt, the young bird was placed in the care of the American Eagle Foundation. They named it Challenger in honor of the Space Shuttle crew, Challenger, who died when it disintegrated shortly after launch.

    mr. Paxton’s apparent poise as the challenger struggled to land on his shoulder is admirable. As an ornithologist, I have come to expect the unexpected from people suddenly confronted by any flying bird, especially an eagle-sized bird. for example, according to my sources, the challenger almost fell victim to a man brandishing a baseball bat at the culmination of his third unsuccessful release attempt before the overly friendly bird was rescued by a nearby observer. Although adult male bald eagles are about 25% smaller than adult females, they are still sizable birds, with wingspans between 1.8 and 2.3 m (5.9 and 7.5 ft). ) and a mass between 3 and 6.3 kg (6.6 and 13.9 pounds).

    “I wasn’t going to run”, mr. paxton said later after the game. “I figured I wasn’t going to outrun an eagle, so we could see what happens.”

    The Bald Eagle is an Endangered Species Act success story: The species all but disappeared from much of the United States decades ago, primarily due to the effects of the agricultural pesticide, DDT, which causes Egg shells become too thin to support the weight of an incubating parent. After the bald eagle was added to the federal endangered species list and agricultural use of DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, the species has been recovering so successfully that it was removed from the federal endangered list. threatened and endangered species in 2007.

    and as for mr. Paxton, although he pitched five solid innings, the home team, the Twins, prevailed 4-2.

    why did the eagle land on seattle mariners pitcher james paxton? | @grrlscientist

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