They were returning to their ambulance station after providing cross coverage in Madeira Park when their colleagues alerted them to an injured animal near Homeside Creek.
Nichols saw the distressed bird hobbling in the rain, unable to fly. He quickly pulled over on the side of the highway to try to help.
“I had to help. I love animals. I don’t even eat them,” Nichols said. “I would not have been able to, in good conscious, just keep driving without at least trying to do something.”
The eagle was understandably afraid of Nichols and hobbled away from him, across another lane of traffic and down into a ravine. Nichols was worried if left unattended the eagle might die, so he quickly grabbed a blanket and followed the bird down into the bush.
“My confidence level was not very high. I didn’t think I was going to be able to get him,” he said.
Nichols, whose wife works at a veterinary office, called the local wildlife rehabilitation centre for advice. Staff from the centre advised Nichols over the phone on how to best wrangle the bird safely by recommending that he try to avoid the talons.
The bird hissed, hid and ran from Nichols. But nevertheless he persisted and after about ten minutes, Nichols was able to successfully corner the bird and carry him back to the ambulance.
“It was quite a humbling experience to hold such a majestic creature in your arms,” he said. “For such huge birds, they are surprising light.”
Gory drove back to their local animal hospital, which happens to be next door to their ambulance station, while Nichols monitored the bird.
At the animal hospital, the eagle received an x-ray which showed that he was malnourished but did not have any broken bones. The eagle was taken to the Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for further care and is now recovering nicely.
Nichols is glad he and his partner were able to help the eagle get the care he needed.
“We managed to make a real difference that day,” he said. “That’s not something I’ll soon forget.”