Rehabbed eagleback in the wild

  • The bald eagle about to make its return flight to the wild. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

  • Tom Ricardi coaxes the bird out of its box. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

  • A young bald eagle that injured its wing four months ago awaits release last Monday near where it was found by the Connecticut River in Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

  • Tom Ricardi removing the eagle from his truck. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZr

For the Bulletin
Thursday, August 03, 2017

DEERFIELD — A young bald eagle that injured its wing four months ago got a rocky and wet reintroduction to the wild outdoors the morning of July 24 in Deerfield.

Tom Ricardi of the Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center in Conway had been caring for the approximately 4-year-old male since it had been brought to the center with a damaged wing. Ricardi said that although the eagle was still holding his wing at an angle, it was time to find out if he could fly on his own.

Returning to the area near the Connecticut River where the raptor was found, a steady rain shouldn’t have made a big difference, except that the bird didn’t seem to want to leave the dry enclosure of the back of Ricardi’s truck, even after being told repeatedly by Ricardi, “You’re free.”

Ricardi put on an arm-protecting glove and coaxed the bird out, but he took a wrong turn and flew into a mound covered with tall grasses instead of the pepper field straight ahead of him.

With a wet, scared bird in the tall grass, there was nothing else for Ricardi to do but go in there and pull the bird out, using years of experience in avoiding razor sharp talons and a snapping beak.

The second release had the bird airborne for a few yards until he landed in the field. After several small test flights bounding through the pepper field, the bird was spotted perched 20 feet up in a tree with its wings spread to dry.

When asked how many eagles he has reared from eggs or nursed back to health, Ricardi replied he has lost count over the years.