The woods in Tumalo gained a new resident on Monday afternoon.
Think Wild Central Oregon released a golden eagle back into the wild after seven months of care following injuries.
The five-year-old male eagle was found near Cline Falls Road in May, with two separate impairments.
“It came in having an ulna fracture, so a fracture of its wing, as well as we are suspecting a soft tissue injury to the shoulder,” Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation Pauline Baker said.
He’s the fourth golden eagle Think Wild has helped over the past year, but the first to be released back into the wild.
“We did a CT scan with Bend Emergency Animal Hospital, they were able to partner with us and help us with that,” Baker said.
“Also we used a local falconer, Gary Landers, who is a retired rehabilitator at this point, but he helps us with creanceing, which is basically test-flying our raptors to make sure they can get lift and bank.”
They observed the eagle to make sure he could fly strongly by himself before taking the next step.
“It took a long time of flight promotion physical therapy, and once we saw the eagle flying back and forth multiple times not taking rest…then we knew he was ready to go,” Baker said.
On Monday, it was finally time to return him to his home near where he was originally found…but not without some fancy new baggage.
“We’re partnering with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist that bands golden eagles post-release,” Baker said. “This eagle is actually going to get a telemetry backpack attached to him as well as a federal band, so we’ll be able to monitor him post-release and kind of ensure that he’s doing well out there.”
Telemetry tracks the bird’s movements, to see how far he goes and if he stays in the area.
“That’s significant because tracking post-release patients can show that we make an impact on the population, and it kind of helps with hopefully eventually gaining funding from a federal or state level,” Baker added.
She said though golden eagles are not an endangered species, they are part of the Eagle Protection Act.
“Their populations are somewhat vulnerable,” she said. “They’re highly susceptible to human impacts such as lead toxicity, getting hit by a car, power lines…so it is important to help them.”
A crowd of volunteers and interested members of the public gathered to watch the eagle take flight on his own, and after Baker placed him carefully on a rock, he soared away to his newfound freedom.