Friday, November 7, 2014

Early Morning Eagle Release

Late on Tuesday evening I got a reminder about an eagle release in Leesburg on Wednesday morning. I had completely forgotten about this momentous event but was resolved to go before I went into work.
The next morning I sent an e-mail explaining where I was and drove to The National Conference Center, an odd place to release an eagle, surrounded in horrible new housing estates. But there were trees and a large grassy area where folks were already collecting when I arrived.
The eagle's cage is in the back of the vehicle, and I was told he was also wearing a hood.
This eagle was found in Lovettsville by the side of a road on September 11th. The lady who discovered him called animal services who contacted Blue Ridge  Wildlife Center in Boyce, VA. They went out immediately to pick him up and he was in hospital for a couple of weeks suffering from injuries likely received from a vehicle. He then had 3 weeks rehabilitation and exercise to get him flying well again. He's thought to be about 5 years old, Blue Ridge explained they could tell this from his markings as he still had some black on his head.
This is a photo from their Facebook page of him exercising yesterday. He's been fed on deer meat and fish and looked in wonderful condition. Blue Ridge has a website here, Please like them on Facebook, here, to hear and see photos of their amazing rescue stories. They also put up a shopping list for Christmas so folks can contribute and purchase much needed items from their Amazon.registry
And so after standing around for about half an hour the moment arrived for the release back into the wild of this great American icon. He was brought out from his cage and was then walked around so everyone could see this creature of beautiful  magnificence.
He wriggled a little, probably sensing his time of captivity was nearly at an end. The lady holding him was great, she didn't parade him for long, and after a couple of minutes she prepared to let him go.
I was hardly prepared, it all happened so fast. One minute he was in her arms and then after a couple of paces forward she released him into the air. I took a few photos but I didn't really want to experience this from behind a viewfinder so my shots are a little haphazard. This was a moment I wanted to see and relish. I was elated that I got a shot of him with his legs hanging down, looking like he was wearing furry trousers. After a few seconds he was gone. There had been little noise during the release, not from him or from us. We were caught in the wonder of the moment and I teared up as he swept above our heads and flapped slowly into the distance. We all erupted into excited chatter and laughter as he disappeared into his free wide open sky.
I slowly walked back to the car, elated to have witnessed this event, and started the drive to Emblemax. What a great way to start a work day!
The local news piece with a video is here.

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