The Christmas Eve Cheagle

One year ago, on Christmas Eve, a man called my rehabber friend Lisa Acton to report an injured Bald Eagle in his back yard. He said he was sure it was an eagle: it was a very large bird, with a white head and a dark body. Lisa, all excited about the prospect of a Bald Eagle, was all set to jump into her car and make the 45-minute drive.

“Wait a minute,” said her husband Joe. “Are you sure it’s an eagle? Why don’t you get the guy to take a picture and send it to you first?”

First photo : there it is, a Bald Eagle.

“I don’t know,” said Joe, not convinced. “Can you get him to take one from the front?”

Second photo: Well, maybe not so much.

Lisa called him back. “It’s a chicken,” she said.

“A chicken!” said the man. “Well, then! I’m not scared to pick up a chicken. It probably belongs to my neighbor – he has chickens.” He went to get the chicken, Lisa went back to fixing dinner, and the Legend of the Christmas Eve Cheagle was born.

Wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Acton is with Animal Kingdom USA Wildlife Rehab Inc., in Brewster, NY.


About suziegilbert

I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley and have been rehabbing birds for over twenty years. I’ve written a memoir about the slippery slope all rehabbers eventually slide down, called “Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings,” published in 2009 by HarperCollins; and a children's book called "Hawk Hill," published in 1996 by Chronicle Books. I also write all kinds of freelance content. Please see my website,
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4 Responses to The Christmas Eve Cheagle

  1. Emilyj says:

    Hahaha…Oh, that’s rich! Hooray for Joe, right.
    Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

  2. Thomas says:

    Too funny. That beats my funniest story. I gotta tell ya though, it sure looks like a bald eagle in that first picture. Had me fooled. The first Bald Chicken I’ve ever seen. 🙂 Merry Christmas to all. Hope all your kids are wiggly and excited about tonight when those fancy reindeer take off and head our direction. ♥

  3. suziegilbert says:

    Merry Christmas back to you all!!

  4. Suzie, it never ceases to amaze me the stories I hear….I too went out on a call several years ago for an Osprey. I was suspicious since this Osprey was in an area where they are not know to go. I’m in the middle of the desert, so there really needs to be a body of water around and there really wasn’t one to speak of. Once I got out to the call, it’s a person that calls us all the time with really bizarre things, mostly because she’s drunk all the time, but she has many other problems on top of the alcohol. We start lookingn for this Osprey and there it is, a Polish chicken, just like the one in your photo. I pick up the bird and tell her this is a chicken, when she proceeds to argue with me, telling me her ‘neighbor is a bird expert’. Really? What am I and why did you call me? We took the chicken with us, passing several just like him on the way out of her neighborhood. Idiots.

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