The Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society released a pair of fledgling eagles at the Comox Bay Farm near the IHOS Gallery on Monday.
The two birds, named Duncan and Bridge, were among five juveniles rescued in August from various sites, including Courtenay and Hornby Island. Three of the birds were emaciated. The Hornby eagle was nicknamed Shredder due to a penchant for shredding her bedding.
Duncan was rescued south of Nanaimo while Bridge came by his moniker after fledging from his nest tree in Simms Millennium Park and landing on the Fifth Street Bridge in Courtenay.
Maj Birch, manager/founder at MARS, said Bridge is lucky to be alive.
“When he landed on the bridge deck, a car drove over top of him, and the car right behind stopped and picked him up,” she said.
Even though he was healthy, the society decided to keep Bridge in captivity until enough fish came into the river.
“This is a naive bird who’s never hunted,” Birch said.
Before being released, Bridge and the other eagles had spent several weeks at a Delta facility with a large flight pen.
“It’s a really exciting day,” Birch said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever released five on the same day. Many of these were fledglings so they were just learning.”
They will learn to survive by watching the hunting techniques of older eagles.
“Now it’s up to them to figure out,” Birch said. “None of them have ever hunted before.”
The Merville-based society, which rescues wildlife on the North Island, has housed 50 eagles at its wildlife centre so far this year.
While the eagle population is healthy, Birch said the habitat is at risk.
“There’s less habitat, so the birds are becoming more urban,” she said. “Urban areas are expanding into their territories.”
The society is appealing to the public for donations to help with operating funds.
For more information, check www.wingtips.org or find MARS on Facebook.