HENDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - After weeks of rehabilitation at Lindale-area rehabilitator Wild and Free Again, an American bald eagle took back to the skies of East Texas recently.
The eagle, a 5-year-old-plus bird, was originally found stuck in a mud pit in Henderson County and was taken to the bird rehabilitator by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens to regain strength before being released.
Tyler's Ainsley Cotton, 10, saw the bird when it was originally taken to Glenwood Animal Hospital after being recovered, and was invited to watch the release.
"I recalled my mom (Stephanie) assisting Beverly (Grage, Wild and Free Again owner) that Sunday afternoon to clean the bird that the game warden had brought to her. They worked to scrub the mud from the feathers of the eagle for quite a long time," she said.
This is the youngster's account of the release:
"As we drove over to the other side of the lake where she would be released, I was hoping she was ready to fly. It was amazing that today, September 17, 2011, was the 224th anniversary of the signing of The Constitution of America, and here we were about to release the symbol of our freedom. Quietly, we stepped out of the car and waited patiently for Beverly to take the magnificent bird out of the carrier. Beverly carefully covered her with a towel and took hold of the massive talons. The eyes of the eagle were constantly on Beverly as if to say, ‘Thank you for this beautiful land I see before me and the care you have given to me.' The sun was shining. The sky was blue with a few clouds floating above. A red tail hawk flew over us sailing in the wind. As Beverly held the bird, its eyes looked at the treetops and the beautiful lake below. Quietly, the eagle turned once more, gazing into Beverly's eyes. As Beverly released the eagle, it opened her wings and effortlessly flew away. It landed in a nearby oak tree where she was able to see land for miles. Beautiful trees and a lake full of water with tons of fish seemed the perfect place for the bald eagle."
The eagle was one of two taken to Wild and Free Again this summer. A second bird that was recovered in Nacogdoches County at the facility being nursed for injuries, and was then taken to a rehabilitation facility near San Antonio to be further strengthened for flight.