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Poisoned Eagle Takes First Flight Back Into The Wild

Her rescuers said they'd never treated a bird so weak, but a sick bald eagle showed plenty of inner strength recently when she recovered from her illness to reunite with her mate.

Dubbed "Birdzilla" for her impressive size, the eagle was admitted to Nova Scotia's Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre late last month with a severe case of lead poisoning.

Typically, eagles like Birdzilla are poisoned after ingesting discarded lead bullet fragments or fishing sinkers. In her case, the toxic metal left her grounded, cold and seriously dehydrated.

"We just laid her on the X-ray table, just put her on her back, set up the X-ray and took the shot and she didn't move," Helene Van Doninck, a veterinarian at the center, told CBC News.

But with the help of some medicine, some patient staffers and a whole lot of fish, Birdzilla gradually recovered. Within weeks, the center says, she was "flying like a fighter jet."

Once she was strong enough to be released, Birdzilla's rescuers took her back to where she was discovered, hoping to reunite her with her mate.

"The weather was good," said Van Doninck, "so we decided that Saturday was a good day to let her go."

Sure enough, her bird husband soon appeared, having waited patiently for her return.

After a month apart, Birdzilla and her mate were finally back together.

While Birdzilla managed to recover from her illness, many more animals are less lucky after being poisoned by discarded lead. Some parts of the United States and Canada restrict the use of lead ammunition on public lands, but animal lovers can do their part by educating lawmakers as well as hunters and fishermen about the dangers of the toxic metal.

To learn more about the effects lead ammunition has on wildlife, click here. Or, click here to donate to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.