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Bend's Beloved Bald Eagle Gets Big Boost

Published On: Aug 30 2011 07:46:00 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2011 08:15:07 AM CDT
SUNRIVER, Ore. -

A big check, a big bucket of fish -- and a big surprise for Central Oregon's beloved bald eagle and the vets who have worked tirelessly to nurse him back to health.

The story of Patriot took a very happy turn at Sunriver Nature Center Tuesday morning, when his biggest champion passed his caretaker, Dr. Jeff Cooney, a big chunk of change -- $1,082.09, to be exact.

Nine-year old Kira Neilsen, who hopes to be a veterinarian one day, heard about the raptor's injuries and took it upon herself to collect money for his recovery, setting up donation jars at the Bend Veterinary Clinic and elsewhere.

In just a few short weeks, she raised more than $1,000 from all over the country to help with Patriot's vet bills and medications.

"This is going to go a long way to help Patriot get his recover going," Cooney said.

But that's not all Neilsen surprised the bird and its caretakers with Tuesday morning.

"Ninety trout," Neilsen said proudly. "I hope he'll get better, and it's going toward a good cause."

Raptor vets Cooney and Jeanette Bonomo have worked to rehab Patriot since he was found near Crane Prairie Reservoir in late June.

"It's an awesome experience," Cooney said. "So interesting to take a bird from being paralyzed and now, to see him standing and able to take care of himself -- very rewarding thing we've been through."

The 90 trout were donated by an Oregon City woman, Doreen Rumgay, who fished them out of her pond.

Patriot is now at the Sunriver Nature Center, getting what Dr. Cooney calls "much needed R & R."

"He's back on his feet, I like to say, because he's actually standing and perching, which he couldn't do before," Cooney said. "He's got a few little sores on his feet -- I like to call them bedsores -- from being down for so long, but he's eating well and he's got a nice facility to stay in."

Soon, the bird will move to another facility where he can get the daily care he needs to further recover.

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