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

Just Posted

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

North Island Eagles logo
North Island Eagles give update on the upcoming 2021-2022 season

The North Island Eagles minor rep hockey teams are getting ready for… Continue reading

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact they recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read