In July, the photographer discovered a white-tailed eagle trapped in a muddy swamp near Swinoujscie, Poland, and pulled it to shore, enduring thick mud and some pecks from the distraught bird in the process. He turned the bird over to an animal sanctuary to recover from the ordeal. Although the incident occurred last month, the video is just beginning to go viral.
The eagle, now named Icarus after the character in Greek mythology that flew too close to the sun, is expected to recover. The animal sanctuary estimates the eagle is about six months old and that the incident could have been his first flight. A later video shows the young bird inside the animal sanctuary:
The rescue was captured with a drone camera, showing the photographer dragging the bird out of the mud from what appears to be a pretty good distance from the shore. A second rescuer stood on land, pulling a rope attached to the photographer’s waist as Chomicz kicked his way back to shore. Local firefighters also assisted in the rescue, local media reported.
The rescue, however, wasn’t Chomicz’s first — he rescued a young eagle stuck in a similar situation last year near the mouth of the Oder River in Poland. He told local news outlets that the mother had been circling it. That bird was also delivered to an aviary, where it was expected to recover before being released back into the wild.
According to National Geographic, the white-tailed eagle was once nearly extinct as a result of pollution and habitat loss. The eagle population grew in the 80’s after the chemicals DDT and PCBs were banned, and now there are an estimated 25,000 in Europe. The birds have an eight-foot wingspan and are considered the largest bird of prey in northern Europe. Chomicz had an image of an eagle featured in a 2012 issue of magazine,