WHAS Book Reviews

Book Review: Jeff Guidry's "An Eagle Named Freedom"

CoverAn Eagle Named Freedom, Jeff Guidry, William Marrow, 2010.

When a young eagle, drastically injured with both wings broken, arrived at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in northern WA state,  volunteer,Jeff  Guidry, was assigned to her care and keeping.  Over the weeks of rehabilitation, the two of them developed a strong bond and Jeff gave her the name, "Freedom."   As fate would have it, she was not able to fly again, and so she continued to live at the center, and she and Jeff became a team, working together on wildlife educational projects with schools and other organizations.

Guidry and Freedom came to trust and rely on each other in a deep and surprising relationship.  After Freedom's recovery and the two of them had been working together for some time, Jeff was diagnosed with cancer.  As he fought the disease, he continued to visit and work with Freedom.  The relationship gave him courage and comfort, " In trusting that Freedom and I would have a long time together, I'd found the advantage -call it an edge-that I needed beyond even extraordinary human support.  Freedom and I were balanced on that edge."


When Jeff learned that his cancer was in remission, he drove to the center to see Freedom.  He jessed her up to take her for a walk, "I felt Freedom's injured left wing drape over my right shoulder.  Then I realized she had brought her right wing clear around to touch me in the middle of my back.  I could feel the tips of her primaries pressed into my body.  I could feel the bones in her wing on my shoulder.  I looked down and saw the ends of her feathers as though I wore a dark eagle cape.  In that instant I felt my friend enfolding me in a full embrace.

I leaned back.  She had never done this before.  We looked straight at each other...She gently touched her beak to my nose....The world was gone.  It was just Freedom and me."

The day I finished this book, our local newspaper, The Daily News, ran a story about a female bald eagle that had been shot and left to suffer at Dibblee's Point just across the river from us in Rainier, OR.  The injured eagle was discovered and delivered to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria, OR.

Although she is still carrying nearly three dozen shotgun BBs lodged in her body, she is up and about.  The last news report was that she is apparently blind in her left eye.  This will prevent her being released to the wild and she will either be euthanized or kept for "educational purposes."

My reading these two stories together left me grateful for Jeff Guidry and his writing.  He closes his book with a plea for support of wildlife care centers such as Sarvey and the Astoria facility.  Support of course can be provided by donations of either money or time, but I want to suggest that reading and sharing a book like Guidry's with as many folks as you can interest in it, is yet another way to support the centers and, better yet, support the wild beings that share the planet with us..

Editor note: The shot eagle has since been released into the wild.