A volunteer at the Teton Raptor Center in Wilson released a rescued bald eagle from a crate last Friday and watched it fly to freedom.
Anne Hare kneeled beside the repurposed dog crate that center workers had carried to the top of a mound of snow. She reached to the latch, helped the door swing open and watched the bird hop out. It took another hop then stroked the air with its wings and took off, disappearing into the landscape after flying a quarter mile or so.
“I got to rescue, then rehab, then release,” Hare said.
The eagle flew through a window in a home south of Jackson near Hoback Junction on Jan. 28, startling resident Reed Moulton, who summoned a rescue. Teton Raptor Center rescuers captured the bird inside his house and have been caring for it since.
The eagle will turn 31 this spring, according to a band on one leg. It had faithfully nested in the Hoback area for years, observers believe, and its mate was likely the bird circling overhead when center workers rescued it.
Hare released the bird in Wilson, five miles or so from its nest. Center workers said they didn’t want it closer to home because, as things go in Jackson Hole, its mate had bonded with another male only the week before.
A fight between the males could have been deleterious, given the rescued bird’s weakened state.
Before its release, rescuers cut a small, square hole in the bird’s left wing feathers so they will be able to identify it when it is soaring. The missing piece should not affect its flight and will fill in later in the spring when the bird molts, they said.