At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, a one-year-old bald eagle flew gracefully toward the wild blue skies before about 350 people on Sauvie Island, some kneeling so those standing behind could witness its release.

The scene came a week after the bald eagle’s comeback took it off the U.S. endangered species list. There are about 10,000 pairs of bald eagles nationwide; Oregon is home to 500 pairs, according to the Audubon Society.

“We could’ve released it on the day of the removal (from the list), but we wanted to make sure the eagle was ready to go,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland. He held the bird for about five minutes to let it get its bearings before soaring off.

Don Kruger, owner of Kruger’s Farm Market, where the eagle was released, was excited about the event at his farm’s first Thursday concert of the summer.

“It’s drama, but it’s not Disneyland,” Kruger said. “You never know what’s going to happen when it comes to animal life.”

A Scappoose resident found the eagle in her yard June 18 and called the Audubon Society to come get it. “There’s a large bird that’s the size of a German shepherd in my yard,” Sallinger recalled the woman saying.

When the 11-pound female bird arrived at the Audubon Society’s Wildlife Care Center in Portland, it couldn’t fly and suffered neurological symptoms from a toxin or an impact injury, Sallinger said. It spent 10 days in a hospital cage.

Sallinger said goodbye, and the eagle soared out of sight in a mere 30 seconds. Then the New Iberians band launched into “I Can See Clearly Now.”