2 young bald eagles released back into the wild

Bald Eaglet #17-0879 and Bald Eaglet #17-1354 (Photos: Wildlife Center of Virginia)

JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — The Wildlife Center of Virginia has released two young bald eagles back into the wild on Saturday at York River State Park.

The eagles both hatched earlier this year.

Bald eagle #17-0879 was found on the ground in Essex County on May 10. The eaglet, which the center says likely fell from its nest, was admitted to the Wildlife Center on May 11. At the wildlife center, the eagle received a physical exam was assigned as the 879th patient admitted during 2017.

The eagle was thing and somewhat dehydrated; no other injuries were found. The eagle received fluids and a dose of anti-fungal medicine before being moved to a nest enclosure, which includes an “eagle loft” for housing young birds. The loft area, with its man-made eagle nest, allows young eaglets to see adult birds flying in the larger flight pen.

Bald eagle #17-1354 was found down on the ground in Chesapeake on June 8. The eagle had reportedly killed and eaten a backyard chicken. The homeowner called Nature’s Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation when the eagle was unable to fly away.  A volunteer drove the eaglet to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro that same day.

The eagle received a physical. It was bright and alert, but very thing, with lice and flat flies. The eaglet was given fluids and was placed in a crate in the center’s holding room for additional observation. On June 10, it was moved to an outdoor flight pen.

The eagles have spent the past few months in outdoor flight pens, learning to fly and slowly building up strength. The wildlife center has determined that these two eaglets are ready to be returned to the wild.

It’s estimated that the bald eagle population of North America numbered about half a million before European settlement. With the loss of habitat, hunting, and the effects of pesticides, the U.S. eagle population has plummeted. In 1977, for example, there were fewer than 50 bald eagle nests in Virginia.

Today, the bald eagle population in Virginia is on the rebound. There are now more than 1,000 active bald eagle nests in the Commonwealth.