Audubon of Florida, our GreenApples Charity of the Month for June 2010, called yesterday to thank us for supporting their efforts to help birds affected by the Gulf Oil Spill and asked if I would like to help release a bald eagle back into the wild at the University of North Florida today. Of course I said yes! [I’m the one in the black shirt/red skirt] The first bald eagle released was the 400th rehabilitated by the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, mine was the 401st. The experience was amazing – a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget! Click here to see all of the pictures from today’s release & watch for coverage from Channel 4, Action News and the Florida Times-Union.
From the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey press release:
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey experts and special guests will release the Center’s 400th rehabilitated Bald Eagle back into the Florida skies at 1:00 PM on Friday, June 18, 2010 at the University of North Florida, 1 UNF Dr., Jacksonville. This eagle is a symbol not only of our nation but of the success of the Bald Eagle recovery efforts by Audubon through education, conservation and rehabilitation.
This adult female Bald Eagle was hit by a motor vehicle on Interstate 10 in Baker County (about 20 miles west of Jacksonville) on April 11, 2010. She was rescued and sent to the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine and then transferred to Audubon Center for Birds of Prey April 14. The bird suffered from internal injuries, bruises and abrasions, and the loss of half of her tail feathers. Audubon staff and veterinarians treated the eagle and have been giving the bird time to grow in proper tail feathers for flight. After conditioning in the 100 foot flight cage, the eagle is ready for release.
Another eagle will be released after our milestone bird. The two year old juvenile was rescued in the Jacksonville area, and has recovered from an infected wing. Sarah Butsch, Director of Marketing for Native Sun Natural Foods Markets, will release the young eagle. Native Sun is supporting Audubon’s efforts to raise awareness and funds for the oil spill disaster.
The Center has admitted an unusually high number of eagles this season due to injuries caused by terrible winter weather, combined with the usual hazards of collisions with vehicles, electrocutions and territory fights. Since January, the Center has admitted 55 Bald Eagles, many of them fledglings. With its specialized eagle care, the Center treats the largest volume of raptors east of the Mississippi River including more than 50 Bald Eagles annually. A study has shown that the Center has had a direct impact on 33 percent of Florida’s current eagle population, either through direct rehabilitation or through the offspring of birds treated and released by the Center.
Releasing the 400th eagle is a fitting tribute to the crucial role Audubon Center for Birds of Prey has played for thirty years in the recovery and continuing success of the Bald Eagle in Florida. While Florida’s population of eagles has recovered significantly since the pesticide-induced decline that reached crisis proportions in the 1960’s, loss of habitat due to land development in Florida’s natural areas continues to add increased pressures to the state’s eagle population. Audubon continues to be a leader in eagle care and education with more than 250 volunteers monitoring urban eagle nests statewide as part of its citizen science Audubon EagleWatch Program.
Celebrating more than three decades in Florida, the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is located at 1101 Audubon Way, in Maitland, Florida. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 per adult and $4 each for children older than 3 years old.
Note: For news about Audubon’s statewide conservation work and our efforts to protect shorebirds and Florida’s beach habitats as the Gulf oil spill unfolds, visit: www.audubonoffloridanews.org.