MAYER, Ariz. (AP) -- Three golden eagles that had been nursed back to health have been released into the wild.
Biologists with the Arizona Game and Fish Department set the eagles free Friday morning near Mayer.
"There's no other bird like them. They're the most successful predator on the planet. They're on pretty much every continent," said Jerry Ostwinkle with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Department spokeswoman Lynda Lambert says the two younger male eagles immediately perched on a ridge, surveying the area. The older female bird that was born in Oregon flew out of view.
"This gives them a lot of time to find food and to get their bearings. You saw the one eagle just took off for the hills. She knows where her bearings are at. She's leaving," said Ostwinkle
The area was chosen because of the availability of cottontail and jackrabbits that become food for the eagles.
Staff at the department's Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center had been caring for the birds that were injured or in poor health.
Hopefully the birds will survive in the wild.
"The female, absolutely, came here from Oregon. The male is 15 years old. He knows what he is doing. The juvenile fifty-fifty just like with their parents. It's a crap shoot for him but this is the best way to get them out the door. If we didn't do all this stuff he would just simply die in a week, two weeks."
The Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center treats more than 1,000 sick and injured animals each year. Money from Arizona Lottery sales helps fund the center.
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