Bald Eagle #17-0968

Admission Date: 
May 16, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Stafford, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Found on the ground
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On May 16, a female young adult Bald Eagle was admitted to the Wildlife Center. The eagle was found on the ground by an animal control officer in a landfill in Stafford, VA.  This bird was unable to fly and would fall over when approached.

On presentation, patient #17-0968 was quiet and laying flat in the crate.  The bird had a mildly thin body condition, a slightly decreased heart rate, and fresh bloody abrasions on her head, lower left and right mandibles, both carpi (wrists), and the tip of the left wing.  All of the bird's primary feathers were tattered, particularly on the left wing, and most of the tail feathers were in blood. The bird was also covered in dust and dirt from being on the ground in the landfill.

Radiographs revealed an enlarged heart but no other significant findings. Blood work was unremarkable, and a test for lead in the blood showed very low levels. The vet staff administered pain medication and fluids. It's possible the bird suffered head or spinal trauma from a collision or fight, or the bird could have ingested a toxin (e.g. pesticides).

The morning after admission, the eagle was much brighter and feistier. Blood work was repeated to ensure nothing was missed during the initial analysis. The bird's lead levels remained low and no other abnormalities were noted. Blood will be sent to an external lab to test for organophosphates. Until then, the bird will be given supportive care and will be assessed daily.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this Bald Eagle … and all of the patients admitted in 2017. Please help!

Updates

July 4, 2017

The veterinary staff have been monitoring Bald Eagle #17-0968’s injured wings. Both carpi remain swollen but appear to be healing gradually.

On July 3, the veterinary staff drew fluid from the carpus joints on both wings and will perform cytology; the tests will help determine if there is a bacterial infection causing the swelling that will require a course of antibiotics.

The staff will move the eagle into a larger enclosure [A2]; Dr. Ernesto hopes that allowing the bird to fly more will help to reduce some of the swelling around the wounds.  For the time being, staff will refrain from actively exercising the eagle.

June 22, 2017

On May 28, Bald Eagle #17-0968 was moved to a larger outdoor enclosure, allowing staff to better assess the bird's flight. Unfortunately, while housed in a larger pen, eagle #17-0968 injured his carpus (wrist) on each wing.

"Bumpers" are applied to an eagle's wing when it is housed in outdoor enclosures to limit injuries to the carpi; bumpers are composed of layers of protective padding and duct tape, secured along the wrist joint. In this case, the bumpers did not prevent the injuries.

On June 8, the veterinary team surgically debrided the wounds and took radiographs to check for more severe injuries. Radiographs showed soft tissue swelling but no broken bones. The vet staff prescribed a course of antibiotics and pain medication, as well as wound treatment every three days. The rehabilitation staff moved the bird to a smaller outdoor enclosure to limit movement.

May 24, 2017

Bald Eagle #17-0968 was moved to an outdoor enclosure on May 21 and has been eating more consistently on its own.

Test results show that the bird was exposed to pesticides, but the test does not identify a specific chemical. It's unclear if the exposure caused any of the eagle's symptoms upon presentation at the Center.

The veterinary team will continue to monitor the eagle's attitude and appetite.