Denise Foster was over the moon when she was given the honour of releasing a rehabilitated eagle from the North Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
And when she cradled the bird of prey on April 1 and then let it leave her her arms, watching it spread its mighty wings and soar into the air, Foster of Save Estuary Land Society, said, “I have no words to describe it.”
“It’s one of the best things I have ever experienced in my whole life,” continued Foster, who was selected in recognition of her role in the successful conservation of the French Creek Estuary Nature Preserve. “The eagle was so calm when I carried it. I felt its warmth and heartbeat. It was awesome.”
This is the first time the eagle release ceremony was held in front of spectators at NIWRC since the COVID pandemic began. The event is held annually in conjunction with the ongoing Brant Wildlife Festival.
The centre was packed with eager and excited people, wanting to witness the freeing of the eagle. First Nations artist Bill Helin kicked things off with a drumming ceremony and send-off song.
Because there were so many people, the caretakers at the centre altered the flight plan for the welfare of the eagle and it was released quickly, leaving some people, especially shutterbugs hoping to snap the happy moment a bit disappointed.
But overall, smiles on everyone’s faces were abundant, as the eagle, after it had been released, hovered above the centre for a few moments, circling, before finally flying off to who knows where.
For more information or to make a donation to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, go to https://www.niwra.org/.