I searched the library’s online catalog when someone inspired me to learn more about eagles. Quite by accident, I discovered An Eagle Named Freedom by Jeff Guidry, written in 2010. A blues guitarist who apparently has had many additional jobs between gigs, one day he found himself searching for something to do outside of work. He and his girlfriend Linda were both interested in wildlife rehabilitation. They started out volunteering for Eagle Watchers, near their home in Washington State.
Later on, Jeff found the Sarvey Wildlife Center and made a once-a-week commitment–usually a Thursday–for a four-hour shift. One day, volunteers and staff brought in a young female bald eagle who had fallen from its nest. She was weak, couldn’t stand, and both her wings were broken. Everyone wanted to give her a chance.
Jeff was one of the people assigned to her care. Each day, he would will her to stand. The staff was worried they would have to put her down when she was slow to recover. Happily, the eagle, which they named Freedom, found the will to survive. She would never fly again, so the staff thought they could use her in their raptor education programs. He began working with her to get her used to people–complete with jesses, gloves, and other standard equipment. Guidry wrote that she became a diva and loved performing before an audience.
While Freedom was healing and beginning a new life, Guidry discovered that he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Even in the midst of treatment and his job, continuing at Sarvey was essential to his recovery. Eagle and man were on the same journey together.
I read this to my aunt, who also enjoyed it a lot. Readers glimpse all different kinds of animals and what it’s like to be a wildlife volunteer and the people who are called to the work. It is very moving.
Freedom has a new handler now, but she’s still at Sarvey. Here is a video of Jeff and Freedom: