On Friday, October 30, 2015, I accompanied Bill Streeter of Delaware Valley Raptor Center, located in Milford, PA for the release of a rehabbed adult male bald eagle. As I headed to Milford, PA to meet Mr. Streeter, I knew it was going to be an awesome morning when the first song I heard on the radio was "Fly Like An Eagle" by Steve Miller! We met at the Raptor Center where Bill captured the eagle from the flight pen. Bill had his hands full and asked me to put the leather hood on the eagle's head covering its eyes to help calm the bird while it was put in a crate in Bills van. We then traveled about an hour and ten minutes to Livingston Manor, NY, returning to the place where the bird was found in mid-August struggling on the banks of the Willowemoc Creek, a well-known trout fishing destination.
The injured bird was reported by passers-by and was eventually captured by NYDEC officer Matt Baker and Kathy Michele, an animal rehabber. Kathy transported the bird to Delaware Valley Raptor Center, in Milford, PA, where it was evaluated and underwent a series of x-rays which determined that the larger of two bones in the fore-wing was broken in 3 places. The good news was that the unbroken bone adjacent to the injured one served as a splint and held everything together. The bird's wing was stabilized and healed well. When asked "How do you know when a bird is ready for release?" Streeter replied, "You just know!" With his years of experience he is able to notice subtle signs signaling the birds strength and flight ability.
It was determined that the original capture site was too close to the highway for the release, so we traveled a short distance to a fishing access site on the creek. After pulling into the spot we immediately noticed 5 eagles soaring high in the sky above us. The eagle was removed from its confines in the van and was subsequently banded on its leg before release. The leather hood covering the eagle's head was removed and as I was moving to a better vantage point to get the release photos, I saw the eagle give Bill a little love peck on the finger which drew a little blood! Bill moved to the edge of the creek and released the bird into the wind. It turned and flew upstream out of sight taking our breath away with it.
After saying our goodbyes we headed out of the parking lot and Bill said he was going upstream to see if we could see the bird perched along the creek which proved to be a great decision. We only traveled a short distance and came to a bridge crossing the creek and low and behold about a hundred and fifty yards out there was perched not only the released bird, but two juveniles in the same tree! What a fitting end to a very memorable adventure.
I have been involved with two other raptor rescues, one was a bald eagle that was hit by a bus outside of Hawley, PA and subsequently, a snowy owl recovered near Bethel, NY, that I brought to the Delaware Raptor Center. Sadly, both of those stories did not have a happy ending. So it was especially poignant to see this eagle take its flight to freedom!
The Delaware Valley Raptor Center is home to approximately 35 birds comprised of both resident birds which are used in educational programs and rescued birds. The center has seen about 3 eagles a year for the past 11 years. The DVRC is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation, located at 416 Cummins Hill Road, Milford, PA and can be reached at (570) 296-6025 and found on line at www.dvrconline.org
The NY DEC officer lived close by so his family was there to witness the event!
The bird was banded before release.
The hood was removed.
The bird was examined.
And off he went!
Joining a juvenile with another perched in the top of the tree out of the photo, quite possibly siblings from earlier in the season.