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Ah, the American bald eagle: the symbol of a great nation. It's proud and noble - a stirring sight every time people spy one. Except, that is, for last Sunday afternoon near Oconomowoc, Wis., when a male may have become overly aggressive in an airborne mating ritual with its intended mate ... and ended up wedged in a maple tree from which it couldn't free itself. As eyewitnesses tell it, the eagles seemed to be fighting, and one sent the other reeling. Since they already were at low altitude, the male became entrapped in the tree, with each wing caught in a tangle of branches. Nearby residents phoned police, who sent a utility truck with a cherry-picker bucket to the scene. A state Department of Natural Resources warden draped a towel over the eagle's head to keep it calm while lifting the wings clear of the entrapping snarl. All the while, the presumed female circled overhead, keeping tabs on the situation. (Experts say bald eagles mate for life.) The freed bird was taken to an animal rehabilitation center , where an examination showed no serious injury. But it made no immediate effort to fly, perhaps as a result of straining too hard to get out of the tree. At last word, plans called for the eagle to be released back into the wild after a period of rest and observation.

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