EATON COUNTY, Mich. — It is the emblem of the United States, the bald eagle, a symbol of strength and determination.
Those two qualities are very evident in one that is recovering here in mid-Michigan.
"Justice" the eagle was found seriously hurt, but is now showing her resilience at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Eaton Rapids.
Justice was hurt so badly that volunteers weren't sure they could save her.
Louis Sagaert cares for bald eagles justice and peace.
"Fourth of July. Just kind of, those names came to our minds," Sagaert said. "We're not all that original."
Justice was found in Sanilac County, located in the thumb area.
After checking her leg bands, Sagaert discovered she was 26-years-old, which is pretty unusual for wild eagles.
But Justice also had a huge wound in her chest.
"We're really not sure what happened to her, and of course, she's not talking," Sagaert said.
Wildside Rehab staff weren't sure she would make it through, but the resilient bird is recovering and persevering.
"Giving her injury and knowing that she sat out int he rain for 2 days, she is definitely a survivor," Sagaert said.
She's perfectly healthy but she fell out of her nest and her parents couldn't be found. So for now she keeps Justice company.
"It just gives us goosebumps to know that what she's probably seen in 26 years and the eaglets that she's been able to raise and now that she can have an impact on another eaglet that wouldn't have a parent otherwise," Sagaert said.
The hope is that both Justice and Peace can be released back into the wild. And Justice, back to the place she was found.
"It's tearful when you watch the release. Sorry, I'm going to get that way right now. But to see them back into the wild is truly amazing," Sagaert said.
Decades ago bald eagles used to be endangered by now they're making a comeback, and Justice will too.
"And that would be very heartwarming, I think to have her back. Back doing what she's supposed to do," Sagaert said.
Justice has surgery coming up to treat her wound and she's expected to fully recover in about a year.
Both she and Peace will more than likely go to flight cage in Bay City first and then they can be released to the wild.
MSU's wildlife ward recently closed after a wildlife vet retired there.
Because of that, Wildside Rehabilitation Center is caring for more animals.
If you'd like to donate to Wildside Rehabilitation, visit here.
To keep up with the center, visit there blog here.
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