The first was a nestling, found alone in a field near Route 78 in Tilden Township, Berks County. She was dehydrated and starving, with no indication as to why she was abandoned.
The second was an adult male that was part of a breeding pair at the Dehart Reservoir in Dauphin County. He arrived with a fractured wing after being hit by a car. The fracture was surgically repaired, and both birds began healing at our clinic.
Five weeks later, both eagles had recovered enough to be placed outdoors. We were a bit nervous introducing the two birds to the 100-foot flight enclosure because we worried that they would fight. Luckily, the exact opposite happened: the adult eagle adopted the baby and began protecting and teaching it.
The baby flew first and was quickly flying strong across the flight cage. The adult took longer to recover his strength, and his first flights were labored, but he kept practicing. Within two weeks he could easily fly across the enclosure and reach the top perch.
On August 2nd, three months after they had arrived separately, they left together.
That morning, both eagles were driven to the adult eagle’s nesting area at the Dehart Reservoir. The juvenile was released first and flew strongly over the field before perching in a distant bare tree.
The adult eagle was released next, and at first, flew in a different direction. Halfway across the field he spotted the baby and changed directions. He flew straight to the tree and rested beside his adopted daughter.
A few minutes later, a large female eagle, possibly the males mate, flew over. She seemed to watch curiously from a distance. We were relieved that she hadn’t aggressively approached the pair.
We didn’t get to witness the reunion, but we assume that the male had a lot of explaining to do. Why had he been gone for three months, and who was this youngster that he brought with him? The conversation must have gone well because all three birds were seen fishing at the reservoir in the following weeks.