WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Bald Eagle dies, apparently electrocuted

Thanks to the reader who texted the report and photo:

Driving down Jacobson around 9:30, I came upon 4 adults standing around a dead eagle, turns out one of them was Kersti Muul, a Wildlife Biologist.

The adult male was found laying in the intersection of 56th SW by a couple who live nearby, who moved it to the sidewalk.

Kersti’s examination concluded that he was electrocuted, which probably explains the power flicker earlier this morning.

Another bystander assisted Kersti in bagging the majestic bird for transport to the next stage of its existence.

Later we heard from Kersti, who explained:

Male of the pair that frequents and feeds off Me-Kwa-Mooks and always perches in the little greenbelt adjacent to Jacobson. … Female can retain territory and recruit a new partner. This pair did not have a nest.

I examined it and found injuries consistent with electrocution.

I surmise it cross-phased the two phase power lines that run up Jacobson. Due to line configuration at 56th, the lines are very close together.

Sad..this pair is always present when watching orcas go by. I love listening to them and actually just recorded them the other day.

The eagle’s death may be the cause of a relatively short-lived 145-customer outage in the area this morning – it was gone from the map before we could write about it, but Beach Drive Blog has a framegrab of the outage zone.

52 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Bald Eagle dies, apparently electrocuted"

  • BirdLover January 6, 2024 (3:41 pm)

    Poor guy. May he rest in peace and we thank him for sharing his beauty with our neighborhood. 

  • Kersti Muul January 6, 2024 (3:41 pm)

    Yes that was the cause of the brief outage. Fuse popped just north of Jacobson along beach drive.Line configuration there will likely now get upgraded to be more bird aafe

    • Eric1 January 7, 2024 (11:04 pm)

      I thought that the distance between high voltage power lines were set long ago so that large birds would not be inadvertently electrocuted by them.  While Bald Eagles are no longer protected by the endangered species act,  they continue to be protected and you would think that SCL would have brought their power lines up to the proper line spacing standard given the number of Bald Eagles in the area.  I wouldn’t really want be responsible if a power line caused a “take” of a protected species when it could have easily been prevented.  Maybe the USFWS should ask some questions on why SCL hasn’t fixed all their power lines yet.

  • Alki resident January 6, 2024 (4:04 pm)

    Why do we need to see the graphic bloody dead eagle? We’re not completely desensitized yet. 

    • Kersti Muul January 6, 2024 (4:54 pm)

      Scroll along then….

    • CarDriver January 6, 2024 (5:34 pm)

      Alki res. This photo isn’t gratuitous. Simply shows a real-life event. Would not showing it have changed anything? And if the photo is of Kersti Mull, I’m quite certain she is most capable of humanely and properly handling the eagle.

    • Anne January 6, 2024 (6:14 pm)

      Why not? It happened-it’s real  This is not a bloody graphic picture-by any stretch. 

      • Alki resident January 6, 2024 (6:34 pm)

        It sure is. That’s our most respected bird which means a lot to many people. Didn’t need to see this pic. 

        • JDB January 7, 2024 (10:44 am)

          This blog serves more than just you, AlkiResident. Seeing images like this provides us with perspective and empathy. Human infrastructure killed this bird. So why do you think humans should be shielded from the consequences of our actions? I don’t think this desensitizes anyone; in fact, it looks like many people feel more empathy toward wildlife after seeing this image. 

          • Deb January 7, 2024 (12:45 pm)

            JDB if people aren’t already empathetic to what can and does happen to animals life in cities this photo isn’t going make a difference.

    • Wseattleite January 6, 2024 (8:31 pm)

      I’m quite enjoyed the picture as it showed the size of the bird next to an adult female person for comparison. Interesting, and very easy to scroll past if someone does not want to see it. Thanks for the picture. Life is not sterile. 

    • Do NOT Win A Darwin Award January 7, 2024 (4:27 am)

      Gore? Hardly. Think about all the gore you watch in movies. Lord of Rings for example? Current events on CNN or FOX Lies? Maybe a documentary on any past war?

    • Denise January 7, 2024 (8:28 am)

      Witnessing the effect of urbanization on wildlife is the least we can do. Protecting their remaining habitat would be better, but a simple acknowledgment by looking at a photo is not too much to ask. 

    • Elton January 8, 2024 (8:18 am)

      I don’t know how you drive around without seeing dead animals on the road on a weekly/daily basis. This is actually far less gory than things I’ve seen on the side of the road before.I will miss that bird, too – I tend to look for him when I’m passing by that area.

  • Tae January 6, 2024 (4:14 pm)

    Regarding the line configuration at 56th, where the lines are very close together perhaps a re-configuration?

    Yes, it will be a cost but how much of a cost is it to restore power after outages and most of all our treasured eagles?

    • Kersti Muul January 6, 2024 (4:54 pm)

      Yes it will be reconfigured now

  • Jamie Kinney January 6, 2024 (5:04 pm)

    I am heartbroken.  This eagle and its mate frequently flew above our home.  It always made my day to see them soaring through the clouds.  Rest in peace.

  • Laura January 6, 2024 (5:17 pm)

    So awful. What a gorgeous creature.  I believe this is the 3rd large raptor electrocuted on west seattle power lines in recent months (the previous two being barred owls) – what gives? Seems incredibly irresponsible to have power lines capable of doing this repeatedly. 

  • Oerthehillz January 6, 2024 (5:27 pm)

    Journalism at its finest. Let’s show the bloody corpse. Thanks.

  • Eric January 6, 2024 (5:31 pm)

    Maybe a warning for the photo, could be traumatizing to others like it was to me

  • TJ January 6, 2024 (5:33 pm)

    If you think that photo is too graphic then it appears you are a little too sensitized. A little blood and that’s too gory.

  • Animalfriend January 6, 2024 (7:54 pm)

    I agree with folks saying we didn’t need to see a bloody dead eagle photo. Feels a bit gratuitous, not to mention just sad. 

  • Lola January 6, 2024 (8:13 pm)

    We heard the pop.this morning at 50th & Alaska.  My husband said sounds like a transformer blew?  I saw the post on the Beach Drive Blog on FB this morning.  So sad for this Eagle and its mate. 

  • Cheri January 6, 2024 (8:49 pm)

    Rest in peace lovely eagle . 

  • 937 January 6, 2024 (10:07 pm)

    For all the people complaining about “the gore” and asking that it not be shown – To see anything of note, one has to zoom in. Clutch harder.

    Caveat Emptor

  • Ronald Foust January 6, 2024 (10:14 pm)

    This is life folks. That fact that Kristi is showing what happens to nature at the expense of humans. Should applaud her efforts🥰🥰🥰

  • oldSwedeFellInLoveWithALatino January 6, 2024 (10:37 pm)

    Anyone who is too sensitive to look at the picture is hopefully vegan as well, otherwise these people are just hypocrites.

    • Jeff January 8, 2024 (9:18 am)

      I am a vegan and it was a touch disturbing to me. But I get it…

  • anonyme January 7, 2024 (5:41 am)

    The photo is tragic, not gory.  I’m disturbed by what it represents, not by what is shown.  It’s horrible that utilities such as power lines are not designed to protect wildlife from execution.

  • Denise January 7, 2024 (8:43 am)

    Thanks to Kersti for her work on behalf of wildlife! And to the people complaining about the photo, take a good look, because this is what we’re doing on this planet—making it hard for wildlife to survive. We should preserve the little habitat that remains. 

  • AR January 7, 2024 (9:11 am)

    Thank you for sharing the pictures.  Beautiful bird and very sorry this happened to it. I love seeing the birds flying along the WS Bluff and seeing them hunting on the beaches.  We are trying to save the trees to make sure these birds have a home.

  • Drew January 7, 2024 (9:23 am)

    What a majestic creature.  I’m okay with the pic … it makes me sad, but that’s okay too.  It’s good to feel empathy for our animal neighbors, who manage to live much more lightly upon the land (or in the air) than we do. 

  • Les January 7, 2024 (10:08 am)

    Saturday morning before 8 AM there was a loud explosion. Was that caused by the eagle ?

  • Marcus January 7, 2024 (10:45 am)

    I think a federal agency may have been more appropriate to address the demise of this wonderful creature.  As a private citizen I would never touch a dead eagle because I would be unsure of violating any federal laws.

    • Kersti Muul January 8, 2024 (9:51 am)

      This was exactly the right and appropriate thing to do and I work closely with the appropriate agencies.

    • Kersti Muul January 8, 2024 (1:37 pm)

      A federal agency did address this. I work closely with many agencies… Including special agents with USFWS on this one. 

  • Pelicans January 7, 2024 (10:56 am)

    Dear Kersti,Thank you for the photo. I know that is one of the eagles that cruises the waterfront from Me-Kwa-Mooks or Lincoln Park up to Alki Point and beyond every morning. The seagulls mob him, but he doesn’t care.The one thing I wish you would have done is to just have shown some delicacy and possibly cradled him instead of holding him by his neck.

    • Kersti Muul January 8, 2024 (9:50 am)

      I didn’t provide the photo and I’m not holding it by its neck. I’m supporting it by its talons and keeping the head upright.

  • Sillygoose January 7, 2024 (2:46 pm)

    Just another reason to get powerlines underground.

  • sbre January 7, 2024 (4:38 pm)

    How many of us has experienced a bloody nose at some point during our lives?The small amount of blood that can be seen on his beak is far less than what has poured from our nostrils! Life happens; Good, bad, beautiful and ugly. 🦅

  • WSB January 7, 2024 (5:33 pm)

    For those who asked about the bird’s disposition after this: Federal authorities – specifically

    • D January 7, 2024 (5:54 pm)

      @WSB Thank you – do you know if the individuals who found and picked up the eagle have reported this to WDFW or USFWS and is the eagle now with USFWS? Just wondering what has actually happened next. Thank you for reporting on this. 

      • WSB January 7, 2024 (6:14 pm)

        If you follow the link, that’s who runs the repository.

        • D January 7, 2024 (7:58 pm)

          Thanks. I’m hoping whoever took the eagle from the site for transport will comment to share what happened next to get it to this repository. 

          • Kersti Muul January 8, 2024 (9:48 am)

            It can happen a few different ways, but in this case it will be dropped off at the office of local federal, special agents.Sometimes meet up with them. Sometimes it gets mailed in

  • I swear January 7, 2024 (11:53 pm)

    Many of you dont deserve Kersti. Either appreciate her contributions or skip reading about em. No need to click on it if all you’re going to do is critique how she should portray nature to your liking.Thank you for all that you do Kersti.

    • anonyme January 8, 2024 (11:53 am)

      Amen to that.  Any suggestion that Kersti would ever be anything but respectful to wildlife, deceased or alive, shows complete ignorance of the character of this remarkable woman.

  • Hear Hear January 8, 2024 (11:17 am)

    For every completely unqualified critic or disgracefully fragile (or flag-waving) infant there are ten appreciative folks who know better than to join the fray–and thank you and others abv for breaking ranks. Everything abt that photo hurt me and I enlarged it twice and saved to my device–what a privilege, which bows to its cause. Search ‘Eagle named Bey’ on WSB–the abv-pictured scientist in mask and gloves supporting that impossible and tragic body and holding his dead head erect knows precisely what she’s doing, comes to non-human beings’ rescue dead sick poisoned or injured, does whatever’s necessary and all she can. All these beings deserve better–real habitat, safety, sincere, practiced respect–and Kersti E. Mull deserves better–respect as the dedicated expert she is. Actually bloodied children in bombed-out hospitals, skeletal human bodies “stacked like cordwood” generations ago, factory slaughter of sentient beings for ppl’s ‘happy meals’… all of it deserves so much better than some of this pap.

  • Near Hear January 8, 2024 (1:08 pm)

    Damn it. All apologies. Muul. Kersti E. Muul. Deserves btr.

  • TMorgan January 10, 2024 (5:32 pm)

    I watched Fox 13 evening Reporter take on the topic, and hopefully reinforcing support for the community efforts to upgrade exposed wires will be expedited.Please note an additional and important casualty to our list of birds lost…the Great Blue Heron passed away in Gatewood last Winter…Many thanks for every effort, conscientious attention and coalition to preserve our collective community legacy in support of bird neighbors!

  • Kersti Muul January 10, 2024 (6:44 pm)

    Another heron was electrocuted off Alki not too long ago as well.

  • Kersti Muul January 10, 2024 (6:45 pm)

    City Light has released this statement:

    “City Light will initiate an assessment by the distribution engineering and environmental teams to evaluate options for retrofitting the poles and wires to reduce the risk of future electrocutions of bald eagles and other large raptors and herons that live in the vicinity of this event. We are committed to protecting bald eagles and all wildlife species affected by our generation and distribution of electricity. As part of this effort, we implement an Avian Protection Program to address these issues when they arise and improve our system to minimize bird mortalities in the first place.”

Sorry, comment time is over.