A rehabilitated bald eagle was released Monday at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay after suffering serious wounds from a fight with another eagle. Newsday’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Howard Schnapp; Photo Credit: Ellen Kessler, Robert Horvath

This eagle is ready to soar.

Wildlife rehabilitators released an adult bald eagle back into the wild Monday at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, about a month after the bird was badly injured in a fight.

Raptor rehabilitation expert Bobby Horvath said he believes it may be the first time an injured adult male bald eagle has been aided to recovery, then successfully released on Long Island.

"You couldn't ask for any better," Horvath said of the release. Horvath runs the non-profit Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation with wife Cathy and daughter Sadie out of their home in Massapequa. "That's what we live for," he said.

Horvath said he and his wife got the bald eagle June 10 following a 911 call to Muttontown Police about two eagles "fighting" on a front lawn.

The other eagle, possibly a female, had flown off by the time Bobby Horvath arrived on site. But the male had wounds to his thighs, neck, beak and a puncture wound to his skull, he said. "He was extremely lucky in that there were no fractures," he said. "But there were severe puncture wounds. He had a hole in his head."

For the first few weeks, the Horvaths dressed the eagle's wounds, fed him, gave him medications several times a day, and made sure his fluids were good.

About bald eagles

  • Bald eagles can grow to 30 inches tall with a wingspan of six-to-seven feet and can live more than 30 years.

  • It is estimated the bald eagle population has risen from fewer than 500 nesting pairs in the U.S. in the early 1960s to more than 70,000 now -- with more than 300,000 individual birds in the lower 48 states, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • According to the New York Natural Heritage Program, there there were just 426 known "active" breeding pairs in the state in 2017.

Eventually, they brought the large raptor to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, where he underwent further reconditioning in an enclosed flying area to build up the required strength needed to ensure release.

Working with large raptors can be dangerous, the Horvaths said. Bald eagles have very sharp beaks and talons and can easily wound a handler.

"It takes a lot of food, a lot of strength, a lot of patience," Cathy Horvath said.

"You have to be on the best of your game," Bobby Horvath said.

The bird was banded with an aluminum foot band by wildlife biologist Christopher Nadareski, who also is a volunteer raptor specialist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He said those involved decided on Sagamore Hill as the release site because it was close to where the eagle was first found, but also because the area was known for prior bald eagle nesting.

"We've found it to be a good spot," Nadareski said.

With Howard Schnapp

Latest videos

DON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access