The iconic Vs flying across the skies this time of year mean winter is almost here. Birds of all kinds are migrating south, including bald eagles. One recently collided with a car driving through Billings, Okla., but it lives to fly another day thanks to a dedicated team of rescuers.
On the outskirts of Billings, wildlife thrives, and birds of prey are no exception. When Noble County Deputy Cory Rink responded to a car accident in late October, he came face to face with a bald eagle for the first time.
“Just a really awesome bird,” he says, “beautiful, beautiful bird.”
It was bleeding in a ditch, and the next day it still had not moved.
Rink says, “I really felt that it was something that we needed to find somebody to help rescue this eagle, to nurse it back to health.”
Rink found that help at the Iowa Tribe. The tribe is home to the Grey Snow Eagle House, which is busier than normal this time of year.
“The food starts depleting, then a lot of the bald eagles will start moving into the southern states,” Aviary Director Megan Judkins explains, “so as their population goes up then we get more injured eagles.”
This bird is their 10th this year, and the second to be released this week.
Judkins says, “He just needed a little TLC to let the bruising go down, and we were able to quickly get him out of ICU into our rehabilitation cage, assess him and get him back out to where he should be.”
Eagles hold a special significance to the Iowa tribe, so with each release they pray.
“He’s the only one that’s ever flew high enough to see God,” explains Iowa Tribe council member Eagle McClellan, who led the ceremony. “A lot of our relatives have alcohol problems, drug problems. We ask him to carry it over there, tell God about it to bless us, bless them.”
Holding a generations-old eagle feather and bone, McClellan cleansed the cage, allowing his namesake to soar once more, taking those prayers with him home.