OWL rehabilitation society volunteer Gary Turner releases an injured bald eagle in Malakwa on Friday, June 5. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)

OWL rehabilitation society volunteer Gary Turner releases an injured bald eagle in Malakwa on Friday, June 5. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)

VIDEO: Rehabilitated eagle released after nearly three-month recovery

The bird took its first free flight in over two months on June 5.

As the blanket was pulled off the top of the dog carrier, the bald eagle inside began pecking at the door. The clicks and gurgles coming from its bright yellow beak oozed agitation and excitement. The bird’s long and painful journey was about to end with its first free flight in more than two months.

On March 15, the eagle was found on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in Malakwa by a woman returning to the Lower Mainland from Revelstoke. After a few phone calls looking for someone who could care for the injured bird she was able to turn it over to Gary Turner, a Vernon resident who volunteers rescuing birds for the OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society.

A day after being found, the eagle was on a commercial flight to Vancouver and then off to OWL’s facility in Delta.

Turner said staff told him the eagle was a mature and exceptionally large female of about eight years old. Her leg was broken, likely due to a collision with a car. The bird’s injuries were healed and it was clear she had made a full recovery.

On June 5, volunteers returned the caged bird of prey to Turner so he could release her near the area where it had been hit. On the shoulder of a rural road approximately half a kilometre off the highway, Turner opened the gate of the cage and the eagle sprang free.

She came to a stop with its talons in the dirt, looked at the small group of onlookers for a split second and then lunged off into the sky. As it wheeled south over a farmer’s field the eagle was briefly harassed by a pair of crows but a few powerful wingbeats outpaced the smaller birds and took her to the top of a tall tree.

Read More: $30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Read More: Salmon Arm RCMP arrest person of interest in suspected arson that destroyed garage

Turner said he hoped a reunion would follow the release as mature eagles usually have an established mate and the rehabilitated bird’s could still be nearby.

Among those watching in wonder as the eagle left the cage were Colleen Turgood and her grandchildren, Aspyn and Cohen Dupuis.

“It was so cool,” Aspyn said as the trio scanned the horizon for another glimpse of the bird.

Turner’s expression as the eagle flew off showed more focus and concern than awe. He has been a volunteer with OWL for more than 20 years and recounted some bird rescues that did not have such happy endings.

Being one of the society’s few volunteers in the Southern Interior, his workload can be immense.

He sometimes receives multiple calls a day to go help injured birds. He said more volunteers assisting with rescues and transport would be greatly appreciated. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, airlifts like the one the eagle benefited from are not feasible and so the OWL volunteers are shuttling birds too and from the rehabilitation centre by car.

Read More: Boating Safety Week a chance to take stock of hazards on Shuswap Lake

Read More: Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

The work is very important to Turner. He said over 90 per cent of the injured birds he has aided were negatively affected by humans in some way, so humans should take responsibility for their recovery.

He said birds of prey like the one turned loose in Malakwa are not only majestic but also serve an important ecological niche controlling the population of rodents and other small animals.

Further information about volunteering with or donating to OWL can be found on their website owlrehab.org or by emailing info@owlrehab.ca.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RE/MAX LifeStyles Realty donated $3,500 to the Christmas Hamper Society. (Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society/Special to The News)
Christmas hamper deadline extended for residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Anyone needing help needs to get in touch with the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society

Jacob Mattson was delighted once he completed 250 laps of the Maple Ridge Secondary School’s track. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge man runs mega-marathon for Movember

Jacob Mattson, 25, only started running frequently nine months ago

Lynn Martin captures this picture of the Golden Ears Mountain from her sundeck on 230th Street in Maple Ridge earlier this year. If forecasters are correct, we could be seeing a fair amount of snow on those mountain peaks again this winter. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Expected view sometime very soon

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

The City of Maple Ridge has cancelled the Christmas Convoy. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)
Santa Claus won’t be coming to Maple Ridge this year

The city’s Christmas Convoy has been cancelled along with photographs at ValleyFair Mall

Poor maps have resulted in hikers being led into dangerous terrain, and rescued by helicopter. (Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue)
Ridge Meadows search team lauds new maps of Golden Ears

Poor online maps led to helicopter rescues earlier this year

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Most Read