Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Harley the Bald Eagle to Fly Free

Harley is Soon to Fly Free - You're Invited to Watch the Release!

In early August on a long stretch of County Highway T near Wascott, Wisconsin, motorcyclist Brian Baladez passed a bald eagle on the side of the road. Realizing the bird was injured, Baladez wrapped it in his leather jacket, strapped it to the back of his Harley Davidson motorcycle and transported it to the Duluth Zoo to find help. One vet and police car ride later, Brian and eagle were referred to our clinic.

Here at The Raptor Center, Dr. Irene Bueno-Padilla, a Veterinary Intern from Spain, lead the case diagnosing the eagle with a fractured ulna (wing) and lead poisoning. The lead poisoning is most likely the result of consuming prey shot with lead bullets. In addition, readers of the Duluth News Tribune named him “Harley” in reference to his unorthodox rescue vehicle after his story was published. To repair his broken wing, Harley underwent surgery performed by Dr. Julia Ponder. Harley’s flight rehabilitation was delayed due to intense molting of his flight feathers. According to Dr. Ponder, this is a common problem associated with wing injuries.

With the help of numerous volunteers, Harley took flight in mid-December and has been exercised regularly since then. Now that our staff is confident that Harley will be able to survive on his own in the wild, he will be released at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center near Hastings. From there, it is likely that Harley will go north to find a mate. Wherever he goes, Harley can now take to the skies and fly free.

After Harley’s release on January 30th, 2010, we will track his location through a GPS/satellite transmitter. Tracking his location will help us learn more about how eagles adjust to the wild after being in captivity. In addition, Harley's data will contribute to our knowledge base about the movements of bald eagles.

Join us Carpenter Nature Center at noon on Saturday, January 30th to watch Harley be released!


  1. Congratulations to Harley and the wonderful staff at The Raptor Center. We all look forward to enjoying the ride with you.