A Happy Homecoming!

The moment of freedom!

The moment of freedom!

Big steps and big flaps.

Big steps and big flaps.



Graceful power.

Graceful power.

Right turn to the trees.

Right turn to the trees.

Perfect landing.

Perfect landing.

Balancing on twigs.

Balancing on twigs.

Circling the treetops.

Circling the treetops.

What a beautiful day for a happy ending!

A handful of people gathered this morning in The City of Dayton’s Mad River Well Field to witness the release of a 111 day old eaglet. (The young American Bald Eagle had been recuperating at The Glen Helen Raptor Center where it was taken on July 1st. It had somehow injured its left wing which had rendered it unable to fly.) The weather was cooperative with  overcast skies, a balmy 70+ degrees and a gentle breeze out of the west.

The decision was made to release the eaglet in a rocky portion of a large, open field that provided a safe buffer from overhead power lines and nearby trees. The eaglet had ridden quietly on the 30 minute trip from Yellow Springs but began moving around as Betty and Kyle removed the large carrier from her vehicle and positioned  it on the ground with the door facing into the wind. Perhaps the familiar sounds and smells of the well field had stirred up a little anticipation in the young eagle. As soon as Betty had opened the door to release the eaglet, it took advantage of the opportunity! With three running steps and two flaps of its strong and beautiful wings, it was airborne! As we cheered, it flew about 70 feet west and then made a right turn and landed in a large tree about 200 feet north of where we stood. There it perched for the next twenty minutes. It appeared to be surveying its surroundings and occasionally looking at our strange group of smiling cheerleaders, or peering off towards the west. Perhaps she had spotted her sibling that was perched atop a pole some distance away, but in that general direction.

Once the eaglet felt that it had properly appraised the situation, it began to act more like a squirrel than an eagle as it walked from limb to limb. Soon it found itself on branches that were not of sufficient diameter to support a 9 pound eaglet. Finally it had climbed, hopped and flapped far enough out on a branch that it sat awkwardly in a small clump of twigs and leaves, comically teetering in the breeze and balancing itself with those massive wings. Following this short period of treetop aerobics it released its grip and was airborne once more! After momentarily disappearing between the trees, it emerged again and slowly began gaining altitude by making graceful small, circles near the treetops. Then, as we watched, a flash of white suddenly caught our eyes! Cindy was flying in from the north, slightly lower than her eaglet! For the next two minutes they circled and chattered together about 50 feet above the ground but on the other side of a large tree. From where we stood we could only catch a few fleeting glimpses of the pair as they frolicked together in the sky. Then the eaglet dropped lower, flying directly towards us about 15 feet above the ground, with Cindy by her side. Before I could snap a picture they were once more behind the tree and slowly drifting off in the direction of Eagle Lake. This is just what we had been hoping for. The healthy eaglet flew well, albeit with a slight “limp” in its left wing, and its parents had welcomed it home. Cindy’s chattering even sounded more like rejoicing that scolding to me.

As the thunder rolls in on the storm clouds outside my window, it is good to know that our Bald Eagle family has weathered this storm of separation and are together again. And now, as the cold raindrops begin to tap rhythmically on that window, I am gratefully warmed by the sweet memories of a happy homecoming.

Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm  Comments (28)  

28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. OMG I’m crying like a baby. Thank you for all your wonderful updaates.

  2. Awesome! Fantastic! Gorgeous! Wondrous! My heart was giddy with excitement as I read your blog and the pictures are out of this world beautiful! Thank you for another wonderful posting, Jim!

  3. Thank you for this beautiful homecoming story. I don’t know about others but my tears will dry and the lump in my throat will go, and the end of today’s tale was better news that I dared dream with Cindy finding her baby…. Many thanks.

  4. Many tears of joy! This is so awesome to hear. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to know there are so many caring people out there that take the time to give nature a hand when it is needed. That young one would surely have not survived without all of you. God bless you all…

  5. Oh I couldn’t wait to get home from work and read your post!! I grabbed the tissues before I sat in front of my computer!!!! What a wonderful celebration it must have been for all of you. Thank you so much Jim for being my eyes and ears and making me feel your excitement!! Sooooooo..happy for Cindy and Jim and the eaglet. And to all the people who made this possible! Way to go Team Eaglet!! Thanks so much, Polly.

  6. What a wonderful story – so happy for this eagle family and their fans.

  7. Oh happy news! The perfect scenario for the eaglet and her mother. You are all awesome people! Thank you so much on behalf of this eagle family. God bless you all.

  8. A wonderful ending.

  9. This afternoon I was curious on how release went, so clicked on the Boonshoft web cam only to find both eaglets in the nest. Together again, they acted as they were never apart. Our thanks go out to all the staff at Glen Helen for taking care of our friend. Did they tag the eaglet?

  10. WONDERFUL!!! What a fantastic day…

  11. The story and the writing are excellent here. Almost wept with joy for the little guy. Keep up the good work.

  12. the beginning of this story was sad when you found her. though it has a very happy ending. so glad she came out okay and met up with her mom cindy.
    thank you for all that care so much to be apart of this rescue!

  13. Sorry that my words made you cry Jannice, but I trust they are tears of joy and relief.

  14. Oh Jim, what a beautiful and heartwarming ending to this story. I can only imagine how you all felt. Apparently the limp in his wing isn’t bothering him. Thank you Jim, the worker at the well field and everyone at Glen Helen who helped this eaglet once again to fly with the eagles. Many, many blessings to you all.

    Sandy in Omaha

  15. It was a glorious event Joyce. Roger was working so I stepped in with my little camera to capture the moment.

  16. We had high hopes for the day but they were exceeded by the reality of the moment. I am glad that we could help make your heart soar C. Londres.

  17. Thank you Pat. It seems that each aerie has its following. We are thankful for the blessing of being a small part of Jim and Cindy’s story.

  18. It was a joy to witness Polly. We cheered as it flew and we applauded its landing, slightly disappointed that the flight wasn’t a little longer. We watched impatiently as it composed itself in the tree, not wanting to leave and hoping to see more. As it worked its way towards the end of the limb we knew that it would just be a matter of time until it had to abandon that wobbly perch. When it did and began to circle just in front of us I told Betty that it was saying “Thank you.” to her and we were all elated. But when Cindy appeared out of nowhere and the two began chattering together, our hearts jumped! And then seeing them drop low and fly directly toward us before drifting away made our hearts soar!

  19. It was a very good day indeed Cindy. Thank you for your comment.

  20. Thank you Peggy. Betty Ross commented to me that a lot of the injured birds of prey that find their way to her door are part of a story that ends tragically. It really makes her day when things go so well. I thanked her and Kyle on behalf of all of us and then told her that I hope that we won’t need her services again!

  21. And a beautiful beginning Gigi! Thank you for your comment.

  22. Well Ron, it is good to know that the sibling was so accepting of the wanderer. Sibling rivalry is a real problem with some eaglets. They did not band the “little” one as there is no current tracking program due the delisting of the species and its remarkable comeback story.

  23. I couldn’t agree with you more KeeKee! I told Betty that she and Kyle could put their Clark Kent clothes back on, but the were still Supermen in my book!

  24. Why thank you Catherine. Everyone at the well field and those of us that have the privilege of interacting with these wonderful creatures are very protective of them. We love sharing their story with others.

  25. You are welcome Pamela. We try to remain hopeful but seeing an eagle grounded and unable to fly is heartbreaking. Even though the reports were very optimistic we realized that there can always be setbacks. But when it flew so gracefully and then to hear it calling to Cindy and Cindy calling back as they flew together, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

  26. It was a great day for all of us Sandy! I just came in from yet another stop at Eastwood and I saw Jim perched casually in a tree just inside the well field, and he was watching the water and not the skies! The searching is over the lost one has found its way home. As I watched him sitting there dozens of cars were streaming by full of people too busy to notice the beautiful reminder of God’s grace perched just outside their car’s window, oblivious to the wonderful adventure taking place on the other side of that fence. And I became acutely aware of what a marvelous blessing this day has been.

  27. Fantastic. How can I be notified of the up close and personal experience of being there? Beve


  28. Thank you for your comment Beverly. One of the reasons that I initiated this blog was to share the close encounters with these amazing creatures with those unable to so closely experience them. Access to the area is strictly limited due to the nature of the facility and the necessary solitude of the eagles. On those rare occasions when we are granted access it is often for a specific purpose like the recent release of the recovered eaglet and we are unfortunately unable to bring others along. However, with 4 eagles flying, some of us find that spending hours at Eastwood Lake or Huffman MetroPark sometimes allows for pretty close encounters in those very public areas.

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