The homing eagle: Magical moment lost bird of prey returned to handler after flying 100 miles home


Wing and a prayer: Samson the eagle and Jonathan Marshall, 43, enjoy an emotional reunion in Devon

This is the heartwarming moment in which golden eagle Samson soared back to the side of his handler Jonathan Marshall - 100 miles away from where he disappeared.
The majestic bird of prey went missing a week earlier during an appearance at a medieval wedding in Gloucester.
But unused to foraging for himself, the homesick eagle winged his way back to his handler for an emotional reunion.
The touching YouTube video shows Mr Marshall calmly presenting a falconry show at Escot Park in Devon when he spots the eagle zooming through the air and breaks off abruptly. 'My goodness me, look at that!' he cries, as the feathered creature swoops into the trees and the audience murmur with amazement. 'That's Samson! That's my golden eagle!

Eagle-eyed: An amazed crowd catch sight of the four-year-old bird soaring into the trees after an arduous journey from Gloucestershire

'I can't believe it, that's the golden eagle we lost a week ago,' he adds. 'Isn't that incredible? He's come back all the way from Gloucestershire.'
The 43-year-old made an appeal to the public to help him find the four-year-old bird after he went missing during a show at Berkley Castle.
The pair had been inseparable since Mr Marshall rescued Samson from captivity in Yorkshire, and had developed an incredible air routine together.

Home at last: Samson dives over the crowd's heads to reach his overjoyed trainer

As the hungry bird tucked in to some food, Mr Marshall told the delighted crowd that he would have to be careful not to got nipped, as Samson was likely to be 'ravenous'.
Samson first hit the headlines several years ago when he became the first eagle in history to fly with a hangglider - soaring over the cliffs of Woolacombe in North Devon with Mr Marshall.
The frantic falconer had feared that his beloved eagle might be harmed in some way, and after a week of silence he had started to lose hope.

Pet: The 43-year-old strokes his fellow performer after the eagle travelled 100 miles to find him

Then, Samson turned up out of the blue in front of several hundred spectators and he is now enjoying a well earned rest for a few days, tucking into his favourite meal of rabbit and pheasant.
The bird, who has a 7ft wingspan, was saved by Mr Marshall from a life locked in a small cupboard after being stolen from a British zoo.

Tame: After a hugnry Samson has enjoyed a few meals of his favourite rabbit, he and Mr Marshall will resume their incredible air show

The worried falconer had said last week: 'When he came to me Samson was in a terrible state.
'He was aggressive because of the way he had been treated and all the flight feathers in his wings and his tail feathers were snapped and bent.
'He was pretty smashed up and left with huge gaping holes in his plumage. It took four months for his feathers to grow back ready to fly, but when they did he looked just magnificent.
'Over the time it took for him to recover we built up a bond of trust and went hunting together, like a pair of golden eagles would do in the wild.When I go to bed at night I can't help but sit up worrying what may have happened to him.

Lost and found: The golden eagle, pictured with his owner, disappeared after flying off to dry his wings following a rain shower

'He's now very tame and used to being around people so I hope it's not too long before someone sees him.'
Mr Marshall was the first man in the world to train a wild peregrine falcon to fly beside him in 2002 after spending ten years learning to fly a hangglider in Australia in order to realise the dream.
When Samson learnt to fly to his glove, Mr Marshall set about coaxing him to soar next to his hang-glider using bits of rabbit meat.

Inseparable: Jonathan and Sampson have such a close relationship the four-year-old bird has learnt to fly alongside his microlight aircraft

It took just six months and from there it was an easy progression for Samson to follow the noisier microlight.
Samson’s top speed is around 100mph but he is quite happy to soar at 30mph, a more manageable speed for a microlight plane.

source: dailymail