ST. LOUIS COUNTY - On this national Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, we were able to share a special moment honoring one of our country's national symbols.
After four months of tender loving care, the World Bird Sanctuary took an eagle back to the wild Monday morning, and NewsChannel 5's Kay Quinn was there for the big moment.
"It's a tough life out there when you really get into it," said Walt Crawford with the World Bird Sanctuary.
Tough when you consider two-thirds of all birds die within a year of hatching. For birds of prey like the juvenile bald eagle, collisions with cars and plate glass windows cause most of their injuries and deaths.
"We can't save them all. But we don't lose them often," said Crawford.
Four months ago, the year-old eagle was one of eight that arrived injured from a sanctuary in Wisconsin.
"They were having trouble getting it feeding and getting it flying," said Crawford.
Sanctuary manager Joe Hoffman and his team nursed him back to health, hand-feeding him and exercising him in the flight cage. Now, healed and banded, he's ready to return to the wild.
Around 10 a.m. Monday, in Buder Park near the banks of the Meramec, we helped push the beautiful bird out of the nest.
"There's a lot of good feeding areas there for eagles and we have a pair nesting about a mile up the river by the sanctuary so they've moved back into this area and their populations are building back up again," said Crawford.
Around 3 p.m. Crawford and the sanctuary team recaptured the eagle. They didn't want to leave him on the ground for the night, and they plan to give him another chance to return to the wild in the near future.