A golden eagle that had been rehabilitated after suffering a broken wing took flight back into the wild Wednesday when it was released at an Atascadero ranch.
The male eagle, which spent five months in captivity, took a few hops out of its crate before lifting itself into the air and soaring to a nearby tree.
The eagle was found in September by Tom Mora and Connie Elder on their property near the border of Atascadero and Templeton. It was unable to fly and probably had been hit by a car.
Mora and Elder turned the bird over to Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay, whose veterinarian, Shannon Riggs, discovered it had suffered a fracture of the ulna, one of the large bones in the wing.
The eagle underwent surgery and recovery in Morro Bay, according to a Pacific Wildlife Care news release, until it had healed enough to fly. At that point, in December, it was sent to the Ojai Raptor Center, which has a 230-foot flight cage large enough to accommodate the eagle.
Nearly two months later, the center determined the 10-pound bird was flying well and was strong enough to return to the wild.
It was transported from Ojai on Tuesday and released Wednesday near the location of its rescue.
Golden eagles are the largest predatory bird in North America, standing 3 feet tall with a 6- to 8-foot wingspan.