Some of the world's predatory birds are in danger of extinction.
GVs & SVs Eagles in flight as crowd watches and eagle lands on handler's arm, at bird preserve in West Germany's Eifel Mountains (3 SHOTS)
CU & SCU Eagles hatching from eggs. (7 SHOTS)
CU Thermometer and humidity instruments on incubator. (2 SHOTS)
CU & SV Eagle chick emerging from egg. (2 SHOTS)
SV & CU Woman feeds eagle chick. (3 SHOTS)
CU & SV INT Larger chick trying to stand. (2 SHOTS)
GV Pair of adult eagles on perch in enclosure.
CU Adult bird
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Background: Some of the world's predatory birds are in danger of extinction. Conservationists say wild eagles, falcons, buzzards and hawks are just some of the species which are finding that man's expansion of metropolitan areas, more industrialisation and the consequent reduction of bush and forest lands, mean reduced food supplies. One of the best known species threatened is the bald eagle, symbol of the United States. But at a bird preserve in West Germany, efforts are underway to ensure the famous bird's survival.
SYNOPSIS: An eagle in free flight -- an imposing picture in the skies over Europe's largest predatory bird preserve at Wildpark Hellenthal in the West German Eifel Mountains. Every weekend, hundreds of people come to the wildpark where birds of prey have found a refuge.
In the case of the bald eagle, the sanctuary is more than a refuge, it's a salvation. Because now, for the first time, a bald eagle has been hatched in captivity. The actual incubation of eagle eggs is no more difficult than with any other bird. But conditions have to be controlled carefully. The temperature is kept at a steady 98-point-5 degrees (37C), which is a degree or two less than for an ordinary hen's egg. Humidity is also critical.
After a 34-day incubation, this chick took no fewer than 48 hours to break free -- a struggle that has never been filmed before.
Already the chick is feeding enthusiastically on a diet of finely ground pigeon meat and rib bones; the latter to provide calcium. There's no fat because the young bird is not able to digest it. This chick is, inf act, the second successful hatching The other emerged four weeks earlier and is thriving. Already it spends most of its time outdoors and although shaky on its legs, there are no worries over its survival.
The breakthrough has been creating an environment where eagles will breed. With that problem controlled, the park's owners hope to raise more birds, eventually to send them to the United States for a life of freedom in the wild.