Hurt ‘majestic bird’ saved from tracks minutes before train came, Virginia rescuers say

Wildlife groups and police celebrated an eagle’s “incredible story of resilience” after being saved from Virginia train tracks in a harrowing rescue, according to social media posts.

After being hit by a train, a bald eagle was in desperate need of help as it sat injured on the tracks near a construction site along Interstate 66, the Animal Education and Rescue Organization said in an Oct. 27 Facebook post. Rescuers soon jumped into action, pulling the “majestic bird” from the tracks minutes before another train arrived, the organization said. Now, the eagle is back to flying after making “an astounding recovery,” AERO said.

A Prince William County police officer called an AERO volunteer, Olivia LoBalbo, to assist the bird when it was found injured, AERO said.

When LaBalbo arrived, the typical course of action would be coming up with a plan to “not stress out the animal,” AERO said, but in the case of the bald eagle, the rescue was on a “time crunch.”

She had less than two minutes to pull the eagle from the tracks before another train would come by and run it over, the organization said.

Thanks to “skillful handling and a very cooperative eagle,” LaBalbo and the police officer successfully got the eagle away from the dangerous situation, the post said. The bird was wrapped and put in a cage “quite literally in the last few seconds” before the train came speeding through, the organization said.

“Wow! You really never know when a rehabber will be needed!” AERO said in the post.

Following the close call, the bald eagle was taken to Wildlife Vet Care to be treated by Belinda Burwell, AERO said in a Nov. 11 Facebook post. After “weeks of perseverance and expert care,” the bird recovered, according to AERO.

Rescuers breathed a “collective sigh of relief” when the long-awaited day for the eagle’s return to the skies came Nov. 11, the organization said. The eagle’s take-off, scheduled at 9:45 a.m., was available for anyone visiting Leopold’s Preserve in Haymarket to view, the park said in a Nov. 10 Facebook post.

The “remarkable bird” and its flight served as “a symbol of hope” for wildlife injury recovery, AERO said.

This eagle’s story is a testament to the impact of swift action, collective effort, and the unyielding dedication of those who stand for the well-being of our precious wildlife,” the organization said in its post.

Haymarket is about 35 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

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