"He was very strong when I was holding him, you could just feel the strength in his talons and his wings," said Scott Kregness after releasing the bird at a Menomonie park on Wednesday morning. He and his wife Marilyn were in the truck towing the boat when the bird hit April 25.
"What a feeling when he actually jumped out of your hand and watching him fly away," Kregness said.
At first, Kregness said they looked in the rearview mirror and saw a hole but they thought the bird bounced off. But then another driver alerted them and they pulled into a rest area near Menomonie, where they found the adult male upright and angry inside.
The eagle was taken to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul for rehabilitation, after an eye hemorrhage and internal injuries.
The couple, of Tower, Minnesota, was taking the boat from Florida to the Breitung, Minnesota, fire department, which owns it.
Patti Stangel, founder of Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release Inc. in Colfax, had taken care of the bird before transferring him to the Raptor Center and helped organize the release Wednesday, about 1½ miles from where the bird hit the boat.
"When he flew off he knew this area," she said. "He's back home and he knows it."
Kregness said the bird seemed to give them a "show" by flying overhead after he was released.
"What a great feeling," Kregness said. "What a majestic bird, I can't describe the feeling. It almost gives you goose bumps."