KCHE-GIZHEK (KYLA)


Kyla, a northern female Bald Eagle, was found in July 2008 near the town of Kila, Montana, as a yearling who had just recently left the nest. She had sustained several breaks to her right wing.

Just a few short months after the aviary opened in 2012, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services contacted the Aviary seeking an emergency placement for several eagles. Kyla, along with the others, was temporarily being housed by Kate Davis, Director of Raptors of the Rockies in Florence, Montana. Understanding they needed to find a permanent placement quickly the decision was made to drive and pick up the eagles as soon as arrangements could be made. Once all the paperwork was in order Aviary Directors, Jennifer Randell and Bree Dunham, set out on the 28 hour drive to pick up the eagles. The first leg of the journey had been full of beautiful country and wildlife as they made their way through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Once they arrived at Raptors of the Rockies there was only time for a short visit and introduction to the eagles before the trip home. With four eagles in tow, the second leg of the trip was no less beautiful when it came to the scenery but the aroma inside the van was less pleasing as the trip continued on. Transporting eagles can put a great deal of stress on them and finding a hotel that will allow Eagles, even in kennels, is difficult. Jennifer and Bree decided to take turns driving to try and shorten the eagles time spent kenneled. After several hours passed you could hear Kyla clanking her beak on the front of the kennel door. When they raised the blanket from her kennel she would peer out and stretch to see what was going on. She seemed more comfortable when someone sat near her kennel as well. When it came time to rest, they stopped and slept with the eagles along the back of the Oregon Trail in an area where they had once lowered traveler’s wagons down into the valley with ropes. Many travelers had found rest here before they continued their journey. This van and its passengers all seemed to enjoy the fresh air and refrain from movement as much as their drivers but the stop was brief. Aviary Directors and the eagles all arrived home safely on August 14th, 2012.

Kyla was given the name Kche-Gizhek which means big sky to honor the place that she comes from. She has a big personality and is very vocal. She is often perched just a few feet from the office window where she greets visitors by throwing her head back and calling loudly. When she arrived her beak was still changing from the dark color of a juvenile and she had streaks of brown on her head and tail. She has matured here.

One of the aviary's first eagles, Charlie, instantly took to Kyla after they were introduced. The two then began trying to build a nest, which is very unusual for birds in captivity. Kyla and Charlie started pulling twigs and branches off the greenery in the enclosure, so staff provided nest material for them to use.

Kyla laid her first eggs in 2015 but broke them due to inexperience. In 2016, she laid again, but the eggs weren't fertile. However, March 21, 2017, became a very exciting day at the aviary when Kyla's egg hatched and Mko Kno was welcomed into the world. This marked the first time that an eagle was hatched and eventually released from a tribal facility on Sept. 20, 2017.

Kyla has truly come full circle. At one point, Kyla was so severely injured, and she didn't completely understand how to eat whole food. Laying an egg and successfully raising her own chick alongside Charlie represents a healing process for her and highlights the aviary's efforts to provide the best experience for all injured birds of prey under their care.