A rehabilitated eagle has been released from Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary

Spreading its wings back in the wild, a rehabilitated eagle has once again taken to the skies after being in care since March.

Set to soar: Martin Scuffins with the wedge tailed eagle that has recently been released into the wild after receiving treatment at his sanctuary. Picture: David Whelan.

Set to soar: Martin Scuffins with the wedge tailed eagle that has recently been released into the wild after receiving treatment at his sanctuary. Picture: David Whelan.

The wedge tailed eagle, which was somewhere between three and five years old, wound up at Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary with feather damage earlier in the year. 

The bird of prey initially underwent a process called imping to help restore its feathers.

The process, a form of feather implantation, is based around grafting good feather into a broken feather base Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary director and main raptor handler Martin Scuffins said.

A feather shaft is hollowed out and a glass rod is glued in place to hold a new section of feather. 

These repairs are important as they then create structure that protects the new feathers as they grow.

The procedure is normally used for rehabilitating birds by giving them feathers rather than waiting for natural regrowth.

Regrowth in birds of prey is usually once a year, so by implanting feathers they can be released back into the wild sooner.

Mr Scuffins said the eagle eventually moulted out many of the feathers and regrew new ones in a recovery that in the past has had limited success. 

Feather injury is something Mr Scuffins termed surprisingly common among eagles, who are very competitive and territorial.

“There’s a lot of fighting between birds driven out of their territory,” he said. 

Mr Scuffins said the eagle may have also been carrying other injuries and this occurred when a member of the public put her into a wire cage, where injuries are likely to get worse. 

“What happens when people rescue them can make a big difference with the outcome. The best thing anyone wanting to help an injured eagle could do is to put it into a cardboard box and take it into a vet or rescue centre as soon as possible,” he said.

“Its not the first time we've had a raptor brought to us that has lost its habitat in the face of new housing developments. We are a greedy species. We take without asking and give too little back!

“If every person moving onto that land joined, or donated to their local Landcare group it would go a very long way towards helping our native wildlife.”

For more information visit the sanctuary’s website or facebook page