The following post from Facebook (and linked YouTube video) updates a story a number of BIA members have been following…
By Rebecca Lessard, Director of Wings of Wonder
This adult Bald Eagle was rescued and transported from Beaver Island, Michigan on February 29th, 2020. He was favoring his left wing and could not fly. At Wings of Wonder the eagle was given fluids, a medication for pain relief and made comfortable in our intensive care area of the clinic. He was seen by one of our participating veterinarians once he was stable enough. Radiographs were taken which showed there were no fractures. We could not find any superficial abrasions, cuts or scratches but his sore left wing made us suspect there had been some sort of collision injury.
From intensive care he was moved to our large 100 foot aviary. He certainly enjoyed the extra freedom and began to test his wings a bit but was still very reluctant to fly. This video displays his first few attempts at flight over the next couple of weeks . . . some hops and jumps, then some short flights with rough landings and eventually perfect, strong and controlled flights the full length of the aviary. After more conditioning/strengthening was ready to return to the Island. Island Airways donated the flights for this eagle . . . both the flight from the island in February and again for the flight to return the eagle. The Corvid 19 statewide lock down caused some complications with the release plans. We knew we had to get this bird back out in the wild before the resident eagles became too territorial with nesting and pair bonding behaviors. One option was to release the bird in Charlevoix but that would require him to fly the 30 plus miles over Lake Michigan to get back to the Island. We felt it was not in his best interest to make that long flight right after he was released. Island Airways assured us that they were following all health codes, regulations and protocols. They offered to fly the eagle and support crew in a clean and sanitized airplane . . . we would be the only ones aboard besides our amazing pilot Paul Welkie. All of us, except the eagle, would wear masks.
On April 11, 2020 we loaded everything up and were flown to Beaver Island. Once we landed on the grassy airstrip Paul taxied to a quiet area and the eagle was released. The eagle basically hopped out of my arms, got his bearings and flew off with grace, strength and purpose. Paul, Ken and I got back into the plane and flew to the mainland. The Covid 19 pandemic prevented all those who helped with this eagle’s capture, rescue and transport from being a part of his release. But we hope this video and our huge round of THANKS offers some gratification. Wings of Wonder wants to specifically give huge Raptorian heart-filled thanks to Deputy Nicole Olsen and her husband Nick, William Markey, Sheryl Early, Andrew Alvesteffer, Long Lake Animal Hospital, Angel and Paul Welke (Island Airways) and Ken Scott Photography. Yes, it surely takes a village to successfully rescue, rehabilitate and release a Bald Eagle!”