A golden Eagle, tracked by East Bay Regional Park District and brought to Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in March went back to where she belongs Friday: The sky.
The golden eagle, originally brought to the hospital on March 27 by Contra Costa Animal Control, was found by a group of San Ramon Valley firefighters, who attended the release of the bird Friday at Las Trampas Regional Park. The firefighters who helped save her life were actually beside Lindsay Associate Veterinarian Lana Kroll as she let go of the eagle, amidst cheers by Lindsay supporters and East Bay Regional Park District staff.
Now fully healed, the golden eagle was again equipped with a backpack that has satellite telemetry, so that East Bay Regional Park District biologists can continue to track her flight paths.
At 10 pounds, the eagle is believed to be around 3 years old, considered a sub-adult. She has done well with flight and live prey tests in a larger aviary, off-site from Lindsay Wildlife, said Lindsay Wildlife Director of Veterinary Services Doctor Guthrum Purdin, DVM.
"Working with this bird has been a tremendous privilege. She has a lot of heart and, even for an eagle, is very fierce,” he said. “Getting to see her back in the wild, with the sky under her wings, is the best part of my job."
The eagle was originally found on the sidewalk in San Ramon outside a fire station. Disoriented, she crashed into windows as she tried to fly — rare behavior for a raptor. San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Team 34 firefighters helped to rescue the bird. At Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital, doctors discovered she had severe head-trauma from an unknown cause, and was basically blind in her left eye.
It was also thought that she had possible rodenticide toxicity – this occurs when eagles eat small mammals that have ingested rodent poison – but her blood tests came back negative for that, said Purdin.
The bird is part of a study by East Bay Regional Park District Wildlife Manager Doug Bell. This young eagle was originally trapped in the Morgan Territory in east Contra Costa County in January 2013 and had a GPS tracker placed on her, Bell said. Since then, the East Bay Regional Park District has been tracking this young bird with a satellite telemetry device on her back.
She is part of a study to track her flight path in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area to help develop more accurate risk maps to inform where new wind-energy turbines should be placed, he said.
“In addition, our tracking is contributing to our understanding of golden eagle movements throughout the area and the Diablo Range and is highlighting the importance of open space preserves and healthy rangelands for maintaining golden eagles in our landscape,” Bell said.
The Mount Diablo Range has one of the highest concentrations of nesting golden eagles in the world, according to Bell. The tracking device showed that moved frequently between Mt. Diablo, Morgan Territory, Las Trampas, Pleasanton Ridge, Dublin Hills, Livermore Hills and the Altamont. Her transmitter started to fail in December 2014, Bell said.
“It is truly remarkable to give this eagle a second chance at life in the wild, thanks to all who helped recover her and the dedicated staff at Lindsay Wildlife Hospital who treated and rehabbed her,” he said. “Hopefully we will be able to continue to follow her for a few more years.”