When an eagle flies through the window

Stacy Studebaker has been living in Kodiak for 40 years, but what happened to her the first Saturday of May was a new experience. A retired high school biology teacher who keeps busy writing children’s books and volunteering with the Audubon society, Studebaker started her day picking up trash as part of an annual community clean up. Back home, she did a little gardening, then settled in her favorite chair near a window that overlooks the ocean and enjoyed a cup of tea.

“All of a sudden it was the most surreal, loud crashing sound,” Studebaker says. “I mean my brain just couldn’t even comprehend what it was.”

Finished with her tea, she moved over to the dining room table, where she had art supplies spread out. “All of a sudden it was the most surreal, loud crashing sound,” Studebaker says. “I mean my brain just couldn’t even comprehend what it was.”

Then she saw the culprit: a giant, screeching bald eagle had crashed through her living room window by where she had just been sitting. It was not happy to suddenly find itself trapped inside, and began thrashing against nearby windows trying to escape.

Studebaker has been around wild animals most of her life, and she was able to remain calm despite her racing adrenaline. She began talking softly, “Take it easy big fellow.” She opened a door in the kitchen, which is adjacent to the living room, and remembering that distressed eagles can be calmed by getting covered, she quickly fetched a blanket.

The eagle, though, wasn’t having it. The raptor repeatedly dodged her attempts to cover it with a blanket and was even able to evade the dual efforts of Studebaker and her neighbor, who came over to help after hearing the commotion. In the midst of the struggle, she called officials at the wildlife refuge for help and snapped a few photos on her iPad; otherwise, she figured, no one would believe her story.

After what she estimates was 20 minutes of back and forth, the eagle spotted the open door and hightailed it out of there. During the chaos, the eagle scratched a few windowsills and broke some glassware in the kitchen that had sentimental value. Beyond a little blood on its head, there was no sign of injury to the bird, so both people and animal survived unharmed. “We were greatly relieved,” Studebaker says.

After coaxing her cat out of deep hiding and during hours of cleaning broken glass, she discovered a four-pound chunk of halibut on her kitchen floor and she started hypothesizing. Studebaker’s house is on a bluff above a rocky beach. Residents cleaning their freezers of old fish to make room for new catch during the summer season will often toss old fillets over the bluff. The eagle, Studebaker figures, had snagged the halibut chunk off the beach and tried to fly away, but was likely chased by other eagles who wanted a piece of the meal. In an attempt to escape, the eagle tried to fly over her house, saw the window, and figured it was a shortcut.

A few days later, another neighbor showed up on Studebaker’s doorstep with a bouquet of flowers. “Stacy,” the neighbor confessed, “that was my halibut.”

“We had a good chuckle,” Studebaker says.


Alexander Deedy formerly worked as the assistant editor and digital content manager for Alaska magazine.

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