From the St. Augustine Record

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thankfulThankful was released into the wild after more than a month of rehabilitation

Thankful, a American Bald Eagle, earned her name one night in September.

She probably would have drowned in Dunns Creek in Putnam County if two boaters had not rescued her. Her story did not end in the creek.

An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission put the 14-pound eagle in a kennel and called The Humane Association of Wildlife Care and Education rehabilitation center, HAWKE, in Elkton, where she was brought back to strength.

“She’s very thankful she didn’t drown,” said Melanie Cain-Stage, president of HAWKE, who gave Thankful her name because she was lucky to be found.

Cain-Stage and a few others gathered at the HAWKE farm Wednesday morning to release Thankful back into the wild after more than a month of rehabilitation.

“I think she knows today’s a big day,” Cain-Stage said as Thankful waited in the arms of St. Johns County Sheriff’s Agricultural Deputy George Letts.

Letts works with Cain-Stage and has taken six injured eagles from the wild to the center for rehabilitation. Cain-Stage asked Letts to release the bird.

Thankful flapped her wings a couple of times as Letts held her. She seemed eager for her flight. But when she first arrived at the farm, Thankful seemed lifeless.

“She just stood there,” Cain-Stage said.

Thankful was isolated in a 25-foot cage when she arrived at the center. While most eagles act aggressive toward humans, Thankful was lethargic.

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