Rescued Baby Bird Returns To The Wild After Blossoming Into A Beautiful Bald Eagle
When this bald eagle chick, named Starbuck, first arrived to the Wildlife Images Rehabilitation Center in Oregon last April, she was so frail that it was unclear if she would make it. Orphaned at just a few days old, the eaglet stood little chance of surviving on her own, let alone ever leading a normal life.
But fortunately she wasn't without the care and attention of two doting parents for long.
After care staff successfully stabilized Starbuck, feeding her until she reached a healthy weight, they passed the baby bird to two locals who were far better equipped to raise her: the center's resident bald eagles, Squeaky and Haggis.
The staff wasn't sure at first how the adult eagle pair would react to the new arrival, but any doubts they may have had were soon quelled. Although Starbuck's foster parents have spent most of their lives in captivity, deemed unfit to return to the wild themselves, they embraced the young bird as if she were their very own.
"Success was celebrated by the staff when the foster parents were observed feeding Starbuck to abundance," writes WIRC.
That "abundance" quickly showed. Over the months that followed, Starbuck grew and grew ...
After six-months under the care and protection of her foster parents, Starbuck blossomed from a helpless orphan into a beautiful, fully-grown bald eagle. Best of all, because she had been raised by two birds like herself in a way that mirrored a natural setting, she could now live a life her foster parents cannot - free in the wild.
On Wednesday, Starbuck bid farewell to Squeaky and Haggis and was driven nearby to the place where she had been found half-a-year earlier and then released, ending one chapter to begin another.
"We are overjoyed that this beautiful animal will get another chance at life in the wild, and are honored we were able to lend a helping hand," says Tracy Higgs, Animal Care Team Leader.
"Starbuck's difficult start in life and series of adventures thereafter will make this release one of our most memorable. It has been an honor serving an animal like Starbuck, we are humbled by this experience."
In time, Starbuck's head feathers will whiten with age, and she may very well go on to start a family of her own - a whole new generation whose existence will be owed to Squeaky and Haggis, and all the other folks who helped her on her way.
As this bird's future is looking up, so too is the future of her species as a whole. Bald eagles were driven to near-extinction in the United States last century, reduced to just a few hundred individuals due to widespread use of the now-banned pesticide DDT which seeped into their food-chain. After dedicated efforts to reverse the decline, however, bald eagles have since recovered - but, like Starbuck, each one of them is still worth protecting.