This video starts with roaring applause. A man with his arm outstretched wearing an animal handling glove releases a bald eagle inside a football stadium. The stadium is not completely enclosed, and you can see the clear, light sky behind the view of the bird.
The applause continues as the video switches over to a different camera view. This view is from the bald eagle’s back. It’s like you’re a tiny person riding it like a horse. It’s definitely not the type of view you would get to enjoy on any other occasion.
This day was special. It was November 23, 2014. It was a ‘Salute to Service’ game between the Texans and the Bangles. The purpose of placing a camera on this bald eagle’s back is to show the public what it’s like to soar like an eagle.
It’s an educational wild eagle. Most people don’t know just how important or incredibly majestic these creatures are and with this display, the public gets to learn a little bit more.
The bald eagle’s name is Challenger. It’s a non-releasable bald eagle that the American Eagle Foundation cares for. It’s 25 years old! They consider him the ambassador for his species. This isn’t his first time soaring over a stadium.
He’s been doing this work for education and awareness since 1991. Sometimes, you can find him in all ballrooms, and sometimes, he even makes visits to classrooms. You might wonder why Challenger is a non-releasable bird.
When he was only five weeks old, he was blown from his nest. The people who spotted him couldn’t leave him and with their good intentions, hand raised him. Since he was imprinted, he must remain under the care of humans. Imprinting refers to the process during which a bird or other animal begins identifying with its species.
Bald eagles don’t know they’re bald eagles when they’re born. During those first few critical weeks, they begin identifying with their parents. In Challenger’s case, he spent this critical period with humans. Therefore, he learned to identify with the human species.
As the video continues, you get an incredible view. It’s a little bit shaky at times. You can watch his head tilting to all sides as he follows through with his trainer’s direction. Then, you watch as he lands down on the trainer’s arm and chomps down on a treat.