A juvenile bald eagle — far too young to sport that iconic white head, neck and tail — is the latest large bird to be released from a fly pen in the rugged mountains high above San Simeon.
The 5-month-old eaglet — that fell from her parents’ nest near Milpitas in June — joins the 16 juvenile California condors released from that big fly pen in the mountains since the fall of 2015.
Three of those giant birds are dead, albeit no foul play is suspected.
Six additional juvenile condors are expected to spread their 9-1/2-foot wingspans and fly free from that pen by December, according to the Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS), the organization heading the California Condor Recovery Program in the Big Sur region.
Meanwhile, the eaglet that tumbled out of its nest June 18 suffered a bruised wing and was first treated at the Lindsey Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Walnut Creek — and later by the California Foundation for Birds of Prey in Roseville, near Sacramento.
After failed attempts to reunite the bird with her parents, she was subsequently transferred to VWS — which has experience releasing bald eagles into the wild — and was moved to the condors’ fly pen. There, condors wait until they become acclimated to their environment prior to their release.
She was named “Lucky” because she was seriously injured, out of its nest, away from parents and vulnerable to predators before being rescued and turned over to collaborating wildlife rehabilitation groups.
“She had the best start that you could ask for,” VWS lead biologist Joe Burnett said. “One wrong move, and you get hit by a car, you hit a power line.”
Now, Lucky is in “a really wild area with as much room as she wants,” he said.
Burnett said the condor camera located near the mountain fly pen showed that Lucky hung around after her release and shared food and a tree with the juvenile San Simeon-based condors for a couple of days.
She is likely, Burnett said, to locate other bald eagles in the county. And despite her lack of parents, he said, “a resident eagle population will certainly show her the tricks.”