Rehabilitated, rare golden eagle is freed (Photos- Video)

Golden eagles are not commonly found in New York. They are the larger cousins of the white-headed bald eagles that frequent the Hudson River and are America's symbol. But one day last February a golden eagle showed up in a Dutchess County, N.Y., neighborhood on a wintery Sunday and surprised everyone, including himself.

The eagle ended up crashing down on a home's rooftop, possibly after fighting with another eagle - no one really knows what happened. One of the neighbors who lived there, Cathy DeGloria, described the eagle like this, "(he) just sat there and looked at us." The eagle was woozy enough to allow neighbors to corral it until Paul Kupchok, , a raptor rehabilitator and the wildlife director at Green Chimneys School in Patterson, N.Y., could pick it up. This was something a healthy bird would never allow.

Paul Kupchok described that day also, "On my way up there, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to find. I once went for an injured bald eagle and found a chicken. So to my surprise it really was an eagle and to more of my surprise it was a golden eagle, which are really rare around here."

Once he was taken to the Green Chimneys School it was discovered by ex-rays that he had a fractured skull. It took him 3 months to recover from his injury and while he was in recovery he dined on quail, up to four a day. Occasionally as a special treat a big rat was added to the menu. In the wild, his diet would consist of baby geese, baby turkeys and rabbits.

Finally on this past Wednesday, he was completely recovered and ready to be released back into the wild. A small group gathered in the grassy field in Pawling, N.Y., to watch the bird's return to the wild. Glenn Hewitt, a wildlife technician at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, had prior to this day placed a metal band on each of the bird's legs. The numbers and codes will allow researchers to know his history if he is ever found again.

Photos: Carol Kaliff 

It was a very emotional and gratifying moment when the eagle burst from a large pet carrier and took to the air over a horse pasture. "He will most likely spend the summer in Canada", said Glenn Hewitt. "Hopefully we'll never see those (leg) bands again," added Kupchok, moments after the large eagle disappeared in the sky.


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