It feels like spring has already sprung this Valentine’s Day month in California, especially at the Orange County Zoo, where a wild bald eagle has been making daily visits to the zoo’s 6-year-old female bald eagle, Olivia, for more than a week.
The wild bird “frequently perches near the enclosure of Olivia…and calls back and forth with her,” Marisa O’Neil, public information officer at the zoo, said in a press release.
Olivia apparently has been calling out on her own, perhaps sending a little message of hopeful love into the world. If her wild visitor is a male, then her possible wishes have been answered. Since zoo staff cannot yet tell if the wild bald eage is a male or a female, however, the visitor could also be seeking “fish in normally dry Santiago Creek,” according to O’Neil.
If eagle love is in the air at the Orange County Zoo, however, Olivia will have to satisfy herself with flirtation alone.
She’s “not well enough to survive in the wild, so she’ll stay safe in her enclosure while her feathered friend stays in his wild domain,” O’Neil says.
The Orange County Zoo is situated inside Irvine Regional Park, so some interaction was bound to take place between animals in the zoo’s enclosures and those living on the outside grounds. At my local zoo, wild animals often sneak into enclosures. I’ve seen bobcats stealing food from a bear exhibit, numerous rodents munching away on bird fare, and feral cats just hanging out wherever they can.
The good news is that the wild bald male eagle has developed quite a following at the California zoo, with visitors stopping to hear the its communications with Olivia. Since she has a name, it seems fitting that this other wild visitor should have a name too.
The Orange County Zoo is therefore holding a competition, where you have a chance to name the vocal wild bald eagle. The winner will get to visit Irvine Regional Park -– as well as other County regional, wilderness and coastal facilities — all year with the prize of a 2011 OC Parks annual pass.
Entries will be taken through 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 3 via the Contest application on the Orange County Parks Facebook page. The OC Parks Commission will vote for the winning name Thursday night at their regular meeting. The winner will be announced on Friday, Feb. 4.
(Image: Orange County Parks)