HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Three weak, emaciated eagles that were nursed back to health at a Michigan raptor rehabilitation facility have been released back into the wild.
Sandy Miner of the nonprofit Wildlife Support Team and others opened the birds' cages on Monday and allowed them to fly free from the grounds of Consumers Energy's Karn/Weadock Generating Complex near Bay City.
Two quickly soared out of sight. One, a juvenile female, flew into a nearby tree and surveyed the scene for a while.
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued that bird in September after receiving a call from a boater who reported that an eagle was swimming in the Saginaw River.
Petty Officer William Peters was among those who rescued the bird. He and others with the Coast Guard dubbed the bird America.
Peters was on hand Monday to watch America's return to nature.
He says her condition "was a complete turnaround from what it was when we picked it up."
The other two eagles were found in poor health elsewhere in Michigan. One of the three tested positive for West Nile virus.
All were cared for at the plant's raptor rehab pen, a facility believed to be among the largest in Michigan.
Miner says "all three of them are very special birds."