Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 14:03 UK

Escaped bald eagle lands on girl at Bristol hotel


The bald eagle had flown off during a flying display

A 10-year-old girl received minor cuts to her hand when an escaped bald eagle with a 6ft-wingspan landed on her.

Sarah Arikan, who owns a hotel in Bristol, near Cribbs Causeway, said the eagle landed on her daughter India's wrist on Monday evening.

The bird was identified by a tag on its leg as belonging to a falconry centre about 50 miles (80km) away.

It had been taking part in a display at Moreton-in-Marsh on Sunday and had failed to return.

The eagle, which is named Wotan, had escaped from the Cotswold Falconry Centre near Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

India said she had been outside the hotel when the eagle landed on her.

She said: "Suddenly it went into my hand and its claws dug into me. I was shaking it all around and it wouldn't come off me."

India Arikan aged 10
India said she tried to shake the bird off

Mrs Arikan, who owns the Berwick Lodge Hotel, had been on the telephone on Monday evening when she heard her daughter shouting.

She said: "India kept saying 'the eagle's on my arm, the eagle's on my arm and it won't come off.

"She was shaking it and there was blood pouring everywhere.

"I had to tell the gentleman I was speaking to on the phone I was sorry and I'd have to call him back because a bald eagle had just landed on my daughter's wrist.

"He said 'oh yes certainly' so I think he thought I was an absolute crackpot."

Lloyd Buck, a Bristol-based bird trainer who works for the BBC's Natural History Unit, was called in to help and tempted the eagle from the roof using some lamb steak.

'Free spirit'

A spokesman for the falconry centre said the high temperatures on Sunday allowed the eagle to soar.

He said: "The weather was magnificent and the 10-year-old bird had been released but flew off.

"He's 10 years old and is a bit of a free spirit - he's done this a few times before so it's not that unusual - or to travel that sort of distance.

"Luckily the hotel contacted a falconer who was able to identify the bird as belonging to us," he added.

The bald eagle is the national bird of the USA. A sea eagle, it plucks fish from the water using its strong talons.

Adult males are about 3ft (90cm) long with a wingspan of just more than 2m (6.5ft). Females are larger, reaching 108cm (43in) with a wingspan of up to 2.5m (8ft).

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