KALISPELL, Mont. - Rehabilitation centers in Montana help dozens of orphaned, sick or injured birds return to the wild each year.
A rehabilitation center in Kalispell released a bald eagle back into the wild after being nursed to health. Fair-Mont-Egan second graders got to see it firsthand.
"We were able to release a female bald eagle that was an adult," said Kari Gabriel of Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center.
In the back yard of Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center, Fair-Mont-Egan second graders got a one-of-a-kind lesson.
"It was really cool. It was awesome," said second graders Chloe and Amelia. It was a first for many.
"I've seen a bald eagle before. Yeah, but we haven't seen it that close. Exciting. And we've never seen it fly, well I haven't," explained Chloe and Amelia.
The bald eagle had been at the rehab center since February. Volunteers have been nursing her back to health. She injured her wing and the volunteers think it could have been from hitting a power line or a vehicle.
"She needed some intense physical therapy, time to let that wing heal and also be able to exercise it," said Gabriel.
Recovery time for each bird depends on the injury. Gabriel explained that the bald eagle has been at the center a little longer than normal.
The second graders met all 10 of the resident birds.
Gabriel explained how the center gets the birds ready for the wild again.
"We have to make sure they know how to hunt, we have to make sure they can fly," explained Gabriel.
The students met a new addition to the center -- a baby stellars jay. The bird didn't have a name, so the students named it Sky, which seemed appropriate for a field trip where the star attraction took off into the sky.