Freedom reigns for American bald eagle |

Freedom reigns for American bald eagle

Michael Schneider

It was a triumphant day for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care as an eagle that was given little chance of flying again took to the skies Sunday over Red Lake.

The American bald eagle, found injured in the Coleville area with a broken wrist bone in a wing last winter, was taken to Wildlife Care about six months ago.

Cheryl Millham, executive director of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Services, said when she first attended to the bird, she doubted it would fly again. About seven weeks ago, it began flying around the care center in Meyers about once a week. Then, three weeks ago, the bird began flying every other day.

Last week it flew every day.

Lori Ross, a volunteer who took the eagle out for its exercise runs, held the bird on the trip from Meyers to the Carson Spur.

“It’s a great day for him,” Ross said. “I’m happy to see him go.”

A caravan of volunteers, sightseers and children gathered above Red Lake to watch the bird fly away.

Bob Burke, vice president of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, was charged with releasing the treasured national symbol, once on the verge of extinction.

Burke stood on the edge of the cliff with the bird in his hands. The hood was removed and and the bird turned its head around and tried repeatedly to peck at Burke.

Burke took a step or two with the bird and tossed it upward. He said, when releasing an eagle, one should make sure of a good grip on the legs as the eagle’s talons can be dangerous.

Then, he tries to keep the bird balanced as he tosses it off a cliff’s edge to give the bird a head start.

Burke said he’s released golden eagles before, but this was his first bald eagle.

The eagle did not stick around to say “goodbye” or “thank you” to his rehabilitators.

Instead, he flew a few hundred yards to a patch of trees by a logging road and landed. Then, after a few minutes, flew across Red Lake where he disappeared into some trees.

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