The same day Olympians in Sochi began their quest for gold, Downsville resident Christine Baldauf had her own brush with a rare golden treasure.
On Saturday, Baldauf had the opportunity to draw blood from a golden eagle, a rare bird that is endangered in New York, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The eagle was trapped early that morning in Andes as part of an experiment being conducted by the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society to learn about golden eagles migration on the East Coast.
Baldauf, a second-year veterinary science student at SUNY Delhi, said she was called Saturday morning by a family friend on whose property the eagle was trapped. Baldauf said the friend knew about her veterinary science background, so she asked if Baldauf would be able to draw the eagle’s blood so that lab work could be done to determine its sex and test its DNA.
Baldauf, 37, said an experience in one of her SUNY Delhi classes prepared her for the task at hand.
“In Farm Animal Nursing, I had to draw blood from a chicken,” Baldauf said. “The technique was the same for the eagle, there were just a lot more feathers.”
Baldauf, who was valedictorian of her graduating class at Downsville Central School, said she became a math teacher at the school after attending Elmira College. A former athlete, Baldauf also coached girl’s varsity basketball at Downsville for several years and led the team to the state final championship game.
But several years ago, Baldauf took a two-year leave from teaching after deciding she wanted to return to school and pursue veterinary science. She enrolled in SUNY Delhi’s Veterinary Science Technology Program.
“I’m giving myself more options,” Baldauf said, on returning to college.
Growing up on a farm, Baldauf said, she was surrounded by cows and other animals that needed care, and would often watch when veterinarians made visits. Baldauf said she often wondered if there were any procedures that her family could perform themselves.