Rescued bald eagle released in best-case scenario

7/24/2013, 10:23 a.m.

— Wildlife Rescue rehabilitators have successfully released a bald eagle that was found floating in the James River near the Lion’s Bridge in The Mariners’ Museum Park this week.

The two watermen two said they retrieved the bird from the river after watching it struggle to take flight for about 15 minutes. It took them another 20 minutes to get the struggling eagle into the boat.

The bird, a male about five years old with a full white head and tail, was handed off to Wildlife Response in Virginia Beach. After evaluating the bird for 24 hours and finding no injury, the bald eagle was released around 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Williams Field, in the 550-acre Mariners’ Museum Park. It flew into a nearby wooded area and out of sight. Wildlife Response rehabilitator Lisa Barlow called the release “a best-case scenario.”

The rehabilitators at Wildlife Rescue believe the bird may have fallen into the water in a failed attempt to retrieve a fish. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries terrestrial biologist Stephen Living, who witnessed the Tuesday launch, said eagles have difficulty taking flight after falling into the water. He said they often use their wings as paddles to reach shore, then re-launch from land.