Second chances: A golden eagle returned to the wild
by Jen Joynt on April 09, 2012
Photo by Jen Joynt.
I recently had the good fortune to watch the release of a golden eagle in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon. This beautiful eagle was brought to Lindsay Wildlife Museum‘s hospital in October of last year with a fractured wing (staff suspect the eagle was hit by a car). Museum staff surgically pinned the fractured wing bones, and the eagle was cared for at Lindsay and later at a Sonoma wildlife center.
There was a small crowd on hand to watch the release. Staff from the Lindsay Wildlife Museum were particularly excited about the occasion, as too often they are not able to successfully rehabilitate and release large raptors (many of which fall prey to the Altamont windmills). Prior to release, the golden eagle was banded and examined to determine likely age and sex. It was an amazing experience to see such a mighty creature up close.
The eagle had a falconry hood on and thus was relatively calm during the examination period. The East Bay Regional Park District and Lindsay Wildlife Museum staff did a wonderful job of getting the eagle ready for release and educating the onlookers to the wonders of golden eagles. The eagle is believed to be male and three or four years old.
When the time came for release, Trish Orlowski of Lindsay Wildlife Museum headed up a hillside with the Golden Eagle to a good vantage point for the Eagle to take off. Trish launched the Eagle who flew up and over to a bunch of trees, where he landed.
After a few minutes, the eagle demonstrated his true flying potential, as he set off from the trees and flew powerfully to a nearby ridge.
While he glided above the ridge, a red-tailed hawk introduced him to the neighborhood by repeatedly flying right at him. While the eagle was too far for photos, it was amazing to watch him soar through the sky. And to marvel at his large wing span, as the eagle made the hawk look crow-size in comparison.