Rehabilitated bald eagle takes to the skies in Windsor County

PERKINSVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) The American bald eagle population is thriving again in our region after decades as an endangered species. And that population got one more member Thursday -- a female eagle that likely would not have made it on her own without a little help.

Back in August, a recently born American bald eagle was located stranded on a sandbar in Perkinsville. It was captured by game Wardens and taken to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. After months of Rehab, that same bald eagle returned to the wild Thursday.

The release was a beautiful moment -- combining humans and nature -- that needs to be slowed down to fully appreciate. A hatch-year female American bald eagle, with a wingspan of more than 7-feet, returning to the place she belongs.

"Giving them a second lease at life and putting them back out into the wild so they can be doing what they should be doing," said VINS' Grae O'Toole.

Early in the day, officials put an ID band on the 13-pound raptor just above its razor sharp talons. They then put her in a crate for the back to her original home.

"It helps us track populations, monitor populations, and from a rehab perspective, it's great because it lets us know how well birds do after they have been in our care," said VINS' Bren Lundborg.

The eagle spent 86 days at the wildlife center. Because she had little mobility when she was first caught, she was tested for all kinds of diseases. But, as it turns out, the young bird was simply fed too much in the nest and unable to fly. Instead, she learned at VINS while being placed on a strict diet until she was strong enough to be released.

American bald eagles are no longer on the federal endangered species list and Vermont's population is growing every day. "Now we have in the neighborhood of two dozen pairs and more non-breeding individuals every year. So, basically every year Vermont is setting a new record for eagle population," said Doug Morin with Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

At full speed, the healthy eagle only stays in eyesight for a matter of seconds -- off to begin a new life out in the wild.

"Initially, she could barely even run. She would get out of breathe. And now she is doing great soars," O'Toole said.

The experts say that in about five years time, this eagle will find a mate and have offspring of her own.