Broken wing repaired, bald eagle takes flight

OKEECHOBEE — Supporters of Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center gathered Saturday for the release of a bald eagle at the wildlife habitat on the Waste Management Okeechobee Landfill property off N.E. 128th Avenue (Berman Road).

Luis Suarez and Dayamy Rodriguez from the Suarez Museum of Natural Science & History coordinated a special day for many in partnership with Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Waste Management to see the eagle’s release flight.eagle1

Sue Arnold said the release marked the sixth eagle the wildlife center has rehabilitated.

Previously, releases were sometimes on public land near Lake Okeechobee, but since the dedication of the landfill area as a wildlife habitat, most releases have been done there.

The female eagle was brought to the wildlife rehab in November by the Florida Wildlife Commission. Her wing was broken, Mrs. Arnold explained. After fixing the wing and giving the bird time to recover, the eagle was sent to the Treasure Coast Wildlife Habitat for flight conditioning.

Mrs. Arnold explained the Okeechobee wildlife rehab can take care of flight conditioning for smaller birds, but does not have the 100 ft. tall flight cages needed for such a large bird of prey.

She said Arnold’s partners with Treasure Coast Wildlife. “They take our big birds. We take their mammals,” she explained.

eagle in the rainOn Saturday, the eagle was back in Okeechobee County and ready to fly.

Mrs. Arnold estimated the bird is around 6 to 8 years old. She said the eagle is a fighter. The bird was ready to be released, she said, “And we are ready for her to go.”

As a storm approached, the group had hoped to beat the rain, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. A sudden downpour drenched the group as they prepared to release the eagle. The eagle did not seem to mind the rain, as she soared into the sky, then settled in the top of a tall pine tree where she spread her wings to take advantage of the shower. When the rain slacked, she took to the air again, exploring her new freedom.

Freddie with eagle
In the past 12 months, Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation has rehabilitated more than 900 injured animals. In addition to the eagle, the center has rehabilitated otters, bobcats, song birds and water birds like anhingas and blue herons.

Mrs. Arnold said they are able to rehabilitate and release about 60 percent of the animals that are brought in. Some animals, such as severely injured birds hit by cars, have little chance to survive.

If possible, Florida wildlife is rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Those who survive but have permanent injuries which would make it impossible for the animals to fend for themselves in the wild, may find a home at the wildlife center.

The center also provides habitat areas for some rescues which are not native to Florida and thus cannot be released in the state.
eagle 2
Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc., (AWRC) is a non-profit 501(c) educational-based wildlife care facility, dedicated to bringing people and wildlife together to develop a community awareness of the value of our Florida wildlife. The ultimate goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and return recovered animals to their natural habitat.

According the FWC data, there are 377 documented bald eagle nests within 60 miles of Lake Okeechobee including 34 nests in Okeechobee County and 24 in Glades County.

Waste Management Okeechobee Landfill is a certified wildlife habitat site certified through the National Wildlife Habitat Council. The landfill dedicates 2,000 of its 4,100 acres to wildlife habitat. Company-wide Waste Management dedicates 26,000 acres around the United States to wildlife habitat.

Arnold’s Wildlife Center welcomes donations to help with animal enclosure maintenance, veterinary care, feed and medical supplies for the animals. For information, go online to arnoldswildlife.org.

Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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