October 17, 2009

Eagle Release October 9th, 2009

Bobby Horvath invited me to attend an Eagle release at the Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown, Long Island last Friday. It's an immature female Bald Eagle that was found on Fire Island (Robert Moses State Park). The Eagle had been there for 6 weeks in the winter of 2008, unable to fly because its feathers had been covered in an undetermined source of slime.  The Eagle had to completely molt before it was completely freed of the slime. Before its release, the bird had spent several weeks at the nature center in a 80 foot long flight cage, along with Bobby creance flying. As Bobby was releasing the female, a male immature Bald Eagle that has been in the Horvath's care with the Avian Pox was being brought to the flight cage in hopes it will be fully rehabilitated and released later this year.

The first trial of the Eagle's release didn't go as planned. It fought its way out of the hands of fellow rehabilitator. It landed in a field and ran around for awhile, seeming uninterested in flying. Bobby chased it around several times in hopes of scaring it into flight, but the she was not interested. They decided to re-capture her and try again, this time releasing her from a 5 foot perch to give her a better chance of getting airborne. After a lengthy struggle to get her on the perch, she hesitated for a few moments before taking off for the nearest tree about 150 feet away. She seemed content to stay there for the rest of the evening, and may still be in the park a week later.

Thanks to Bobby and Cathy Horvath this beautiful Eagle will have a chance to fly the skies for many years to come. 

Pic 1. Male Eagle being banded

Pic 2. Beak size comparison (Female on Left, Male on right)

Pic 3&4. Male in the flight cage

Pic 5&6. Female before release

Pic 7&8. Female after first release

Pic 9&10. Female on the perch

Pic 11&12. Female finally makes it to a tree

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