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Bald eagle released back into the wild

By Staff | May 20, 2015

The Cape Coral Canal bald eagle didn’t take but a second to gather itself and fly away to freedom Friday during its release back into the wild. BRIAN WIERIMA

Freedom certainly tasted good for the “Cape Coral Canal” bald eagle, after it didn’t hesitate for a second to take to flight after being released back into the wild in Cape Coral Friday.

The bald eagle which was rescued out of a Cape Coral canal April 28, by residents, the FWC and the Cape Coral Fire Department, made a full recovery and released back out into the wild Friday, May 15.

The two and half week recovery came via the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel. After being rescued out of the water, the bald eagle (named #15-1148) was examined and did not reveal any broken bones or internal injuries.

“We are not positive how he ended up in water,” said CROW vet intern Molly Lien. “Often times, they are hunting fish and hunting on the waters edge and when they get saturated with water, they can’t fly away.

“We got him at CROW the following day, and he just looked exhausted and dehydrated. His injuries were relatively mild, but he had some swelling in his elbow, which could have happened if he hit it on a pole or something in the canal.”

The bald eagle was given strict cage rest, but started eating well early in the process. He was moved to a large flight enclosure about a week later, where he could fly, perch and build his strength back up.

“We just provided support care and gave him some antibiotics to prevent pneumonia in case he ingested water when he was stuck in the canal,” Lien said. “He was already eating in the first 24 hours, which was a good sign.”

The bald eagle was transferred outside directly into CROW’s largest enclosure, which is the size of a football field where more long-range flying rehab can take place.

“He started flying immediately and he was exactly what we hope every patient which comes to us would be,” said CROW senior wildlife rehabilitator Willow Bender.

After Lien and Bender carried the crate out to the open field near where he was rescued, the eagle didn’t take but a second to fly back into the open air.

“He did exactly what a healthy eagle should have done,” Bender added.

The release was held just off where it was found near 2403 SE 16th Street in Cape Coral.

Speaking of recovering bald eagles, CROW’s most famous feathered friend, Ozzie, is still plugging away at his rehab. The famous eagle cam star is currently rehabbing in the small flight enclosure, where he is strengthening his wings back to normal.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Bender, who is overseeing his rehab in the flight enclosures. “He is learning to do short flights and he knows what he can and cannot do in the small flight enclosure. He is eating fantastically, too.”

Lien said Ozzie’s fractured clavicle is healing well and his healthy eating is also a good sign. But there still isn’t a target date for Ozzie’s release, although it is nearing.

“He’s doing well and hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we’ll have a much better idea of when his release date can be,” Lien said. “There will be two to three weeks minimum to condition him in the flight enclosures and then we’ll be able to make a better assessment.”