SANDPOINT — An injured bald eagle that was nursed back to health by Birds of Prey Northwest took to the skies over Lake Pend Oreille at Sunnyside without missing a wing beat on Friday.
Birds of Prey Director Janie Veltkamp wasn’t so sure the eagle was going take flight without faltering or even splashing down in the lake to gather itself.
“This is probably not going to be a National Geographic moment where he’s going to fly out over the lake and disappear,” Veltkamp said.
But after affixing an identifying band around one of the bird’s fearsome talons, Janie’s husband, Don, lofted it into the air and it soared off with seeming ease.
The feisty eagle’s temperament perhaps had something to do with his eagerness to re-enter the wild.
“He’s been pretty hard on himself in captivity. He’s extremely wild and has not tolerated captivity well at all, although he has eaten well,” Janie Veltkamp said.
The bird was discovered injured in the roadway by Terriann Poutre. She and friends helped bundle the bird into a dog kennel so Birds of Prey could collect the injured raptor.
“Have leather gloves and a plan, like these ladies did,” Janie Veltkamp said.
It’s suspected the adult male was distracted by roadkill it was dining on and wasn’t able to entirely clear the path of an oncoming vehicle. It suffered a broken wing.
Eagles are federally protected, although they become nobody’s responsibility if they’re injured. Birds of Prey is federally permitted to care for injured raptors, although it receives no public funding and relies on donations to carry out its charter.
“We feel these federally protected birds deserve care when they fall from the sky or end up on the roadway hurt,” Janie Veltkamp said.