Truck driver Ben Wright was more than startled when a bald eagle struck his windshield with great force as he traveled along the interstate outside of Bear Lake, Idaho at 65 miles per hour. “I didn’t know what hit the windshield, all I knew was the glass exploded, and this thing was screaming just like a child, or something,” Wright said of the experience.
The bald eagle’s wing kept her from coming entirely through the windshield. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game responded to the scene of the accident to care for the eagle, and determined that the eagle was hemorrhaging through her mouth and nostrils. The Department of Fish and Game sent this feisty patient to the nearby Teton Raptor Center; a non-profit organization focused on birds of prey, in Wilson, Wyoming.
Dan Foreman of the Teton Raptor Center explained that this particular eagle is an incredibly strong bird. Aside from the internal injuries, she had no lacerations or broken bones, amazingly. During her recovery, the staff at the center limited contact with the eagle to reduce her stress. The eagle was willing and able to eat without assistance from the staff at the Center, which aided in her recovery. Often staff members have to force-feed injured birds in their care.
Jason Jones, a former attorney and master falconer, patiently nursed the eagle and fed her mostly quail stuffed with antibiotics to aid in her recovery. The Teton Raptor Center cared for two other patients during this eagle’s recovery, another bald eagle, and a golden eagle, both injured from assumed impact with cars. In the case of the miracle eagle, however, the cause of her injuries was well known.
After a month of recovery at the Teton Raptor Center, the eagle had sufficiently recovered to be released into the wild. Sometimes birds in captivity gain weight which makes it difficult to fly, but the miracle eagle weighed in at over ten pounds, which gave her enough weight that she would have approximately two weeks to adjust to being in the wild before she would have to resume hunting to feed herself.
The staff at the Teton Raptor Center examined the eagle one final time, and following the exam she was fitted with an ID band. Jones drove the eagle back to Idaho, where local officials had come to see her released into her natural habitat, including sheriff Brent Bunn, who had responded to the scene of the high impact collision between semi truck and eagle. “It was a miracle that bird survived,” Bunn said.
Jones threw the eagle into the wind to aid her first flight following her accident and recovery. For those who nursed this eagle back to health following the traumatic accident, they say this is the most remarkable recovery they have ever seen.
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