A bald eagle release

The previous Sunday, on January 15, I participated (as a photographer) in the release of a young bald eagle, born in the previous year. Robyn Graboski, the director of Centre Wildlife Care, was responsible for rehabbing the eagle so that it could be released. The first stop was at a flight cage where the bald eagle had been exercising, developing its wings to be capable of living in the wild.

What had immediately struck me about the young bald eagle – a female – was how absolutely determined she was in flying from one perch to the other. Later, I realized that “Athena” would be a suitable name for her.

Athena exercising.

The point here is that Athena would have to be captured to be put into a crate and then to be transported to a release site. The goal therefore was to wait for one of those inevitable times when Athena would be on the ground.

Athena on the ground.

At such a point, Robyn moves in with amazing skill and dexterity.

Robyn moves in with towel.

There is no hesitation on Robyn’s part. It all comes down to “see eagle, capture eagle.” No matter how fierce or large or strong the bird, Robyn is capable.

Robyn and her eagle.

I often feel that whenever I show Robyn having toweled an eagle or other predator that I should have a warning: “Kids, don’t try to do this on your own. It isn’t as simple as it looks.”

After Robyn put Athena into a crate, we had a long drive north to the release site, close to where the eagle was first recovered by a park ranger, who was present at the release. Also present, was a woman, Jenn, who took a fine video of the release.

Of various bald eagles to be released, some hesitate once the crate is opened. Athena never hesitated. If anything, she was attempting to assist Robyn in opening the crate.

Note the strategically placed talons ready to push the crate door open.

Once Robyn opened the crate, Athena paused for perhaps a microsecond.

The open crate.

Athena was out in a flash.

Athena free!

As soon as she was outside, Athena prepared for flight.

Athena raises her wings for a mighty beat.

Athena had one thought: Get away now!

Athena in flight.

I should mention that the three photos above occurred within the same second. The action was that fast!

Athena determination.

Athena continued to gain altitude via her powerful (and well exercised) wings.

A powerful Athena.

Athena zoomed past me at high speed, turned, and headed into a grove of trees, in which she could contemplate her new situation and enjoy her freedom. A successful release!

On the Centre Wildlife Care Facebook page, I have additional photos of the release in two albums. The first album has 11 photos that occurred in the flight cage. The second album has 15 photos of the actual release.

Let me mention too that wildlife rehabbers, such as Centre Wildlife Care, have no funding whatsoever from any governmental body. Wildlife rehabbers work from love of wildlife and donations.

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