MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) — A month after a bald eagle slammed into his pickup truck window, a Mount Pleasant man was overjoyed Thursday to toss the healed bird into the air and watch as it soared away.
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1aVM3qy ) Jason Stott was horrified a month ago while driving near Maquoketa when an eagle took flight as he drove past. The bird hit his windshield with such force that the glass cracked.
He stopped and ran back to the crumpled bird.
"I thought it was dead, so I put a woven rug over the body. Then, I saw it start breathing, and it opened its eyes — big, bright yellow eyes," Stott said.
He took it to the nearby Hurstville Interpretive Center, and the bird was later taken to the Macbride Raptor Project clinic in Solon.
An examination showed it wasn't badly hurt.
After a month of rehab, Luke Hart, the raptor project's assistant director, returned the now-healed eagle to the Hurstville center in Jackson County.
"We like to release them close to an area they are familiar with, but this could be a migrating bird, too," Hart told about 20 people who gathered to watch the release.
Hart retrieved a large cardboard box and asked Stott if he'd like to release the bird.
"Oh my, yes. It's a chance of a lifetime," Stott said.
Hart reached into the box, grabbed the eagle and then carefully handed it to Stott, who wore a thick leather apron, protective glasses and thick gloves.
Stott tossed the eagle into the air, and the bird flew low over the crowd and then glided toward the Maquoketa River.
"He'll find that river to eat and a place to sleep right away," Hart said.
Stott watched as the bird disappeared from sight.
"That was awesome," he said. "That's all I can say."
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com