2011 Norfolk Botanical Garden Eaglets

Admitted
April 27, 2011
Released
July 27, 2011
Rescue Location
Norfolk Botanical Garden, Norfolk, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Orphaned
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

In spring 2011, thousands of Eagle Cam viewers from around the world watched the Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG) Bald Eagles raise their chicks. The Bald Eagle pair had been nesting at NBG, very close to the Norfolk International Airport, for nearly a decade; their 2011 brood contained three young eaglets who hatched in mid-March.

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011, the female eagle was struck and killed by an airplane at the Norfolk International Airport. After monitoring the nest for the remainder of the day, officials from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, in consultation with a number of eagle experts, met to determine a course of action. A number of options were considered, including no intervention, providing supplemental food for the chicks, or separating them for placement in the nests of other eagles. Ultimately, the biologists and agency eagle experts determined that the most appropriate response would be to remove the eaglets and transport them to The Wildlife Center of Virginia, where they could be cared for until they were old enough to be released.

Wildlife Center staff were able to quickly rig a webcam in an outdoor raptor enclosure within days of the eaglets' arrival; Eagle Cam fans were able to continue to watch the young birds grow and develop during the course of the summer. The young eagles were released on July 27, 2011, at Berkeley Plantation.

Patient Updates

On July 27, 2011 at Berkeley Plantation, a crowd of more than 1300 people gathered to witness and celebrate this historic event. In addition to the three Bald Eagles from Norfolk Botanical Gardens, two other eagles were also released — making it the first quintuple eagle release in Wildlife Center history.

Release Day Photos of Norfolk Eagles:

Quintuple Eagle Release — July 27, 2011

All photos courtesy of Jim Deal. Please share responsibly with proper credit.

 For those who are interested in a souvenir program from release day:

A note about tomorrow’s broadcast:

8:00 a.m.:  The five young Bald Eagles that will be released tomorrow will be caught. The catch-up crew (same as the weigh-in crew) will be starting with the three Norfolk birds and then will be catching the two eagles in the other flight pen. As each bird is caught, it will be taken down to the hospital to be "bumpered" and placed into a transport crate. The "bumpering" is something that’s done to keep the eagles' wrist areas padded and protected during transport.

The two eagles, #1714 and #1235, will be banded.

9:00 a.m.: Feed from the Wildlife Center cam to WVEC will stop.

11:00 a.m.:  WVEC’s live streaming of the release will begin [same website address].  DGIF Biologist Steve Living will be narrating the release.

WVEC’s moderated discussion will continue throughout the remainder of the week.

And please join us …

Thursday, July 28, 9:00 a.m.:  The Wildlife Center will begin streaming the Wildlife Center Animal Cam. Please look for the "animal cam" link on the front page of the Wildlife Center’s website at that time.

A moderated discussion will also be launched at that point, though likely minimal discussion will take place on Thursday/Friday as the WVEC discussion wraps up.

All was well at this morning’s weigh-in — all three birds are in good condition. The "foot & feather checks" revealed that all three have good feather condition and healthy feet — NX is only missing one feather on her left wing, which isn’t causing her any problems.

For those who watched the live weigh-in (or for those who may be watching the recorded event), wildlife rehabilitator Suzy first caught NV. Dr. Miranda then caught NZ and passed her off to Vinny, one of our animal caretaker preceptorship students. Dr. Miranda then went in to catch NX — who stubbornly sat on the perch for a few minutes, just out of Dr. Miranda’s reach.

The current weights:
NZ: 4.02 kg [last weight was 4.06 kg]
NX: 4.08 kg [last week was 4.01 kg]
NV: 3.58 kg [last week was 3.43 kg]

The eaglets received live fish yesterday afternoon — five fish in the larger tub and four in the smaller tub. As of the weigh-in time, there were three fish left in each tub. The staff will continue to periodically place dead fish in the tubs, to allow for more practice. Tonight’s menu includes five fish in the far tub, and four fish on the ground.

On tonight’s menu:  fresh fish!  Wildlife rehabilitator Suzy picked up a load of live fish today from DGIF’s Montebello State Fish Hatchery for the three eaglets – and some for their next-door neighbors as well.

The WCV typically provides live prey testing for all raptors prior to release – though offering live fish to eagles can sometimes be tricky. The most difficult part of “fish school” is finding ones large enough for the eagles to hunt – while keeping the fish alive! Since trout are more sensitive to water conditions, they typically don’t survive very long in the water tubs in the raptor enclosures. However, when able, the staff do like to provide as much practice as possible. Fortunately, eagles eat a lot of carrion as well – which doesn’t require any hunting skills.

Eight fish will be served to the NBG eagles this afternoon – four in each tub. The fish look a bit weary after the journey already — so won’t be the most active fish to catch, but again, the eaglets will get the general idea of where fish come from and how they should catch them.

Just a note on the plans for the week for the famous Norfolk trio:  this week’s weigh-in will occur on Wednesday, July 20. The weigh-in will likely happen sometime between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., depending on how things are going in the hospital — and of course barring any wildlife emergencies! This will be the last weigh-in prior to the eagles' release on July 27.

All three Norfolk eaglets were caught up this morning for their bi-weekly (every other week) weigh-in. They also had routine "foot and feather checks" — the veterinary team examine the wing and tail feathers as well as the feet, just to ensure there aren’t any problems. NZ was also brought into the clinic for another set of leg radiographs, just to check on her chip fracture from several weeks ago.

The entire procedure happened very quickly this morning. Dr. Miranda first caught NZ while Suzy caught NX. NV flew a few extra laps while NX was weighed and checked. The only thing of note on NX was that she has a broken feather on her left wing, which shouldn’t affect her. Suzy then caught NV for his weight and feather/foot check — as well as a blood draw to re-check lead levels. Today’s reading came in at 0.039 ppm — even lower than two weeks ago.

Today’s weights for the three birds:

NZ: 4.06 kg [last weight was 4.05 kg]
NX: 4.01 kg [last week was 4.04 kg]
NV: 3.43 kg [last week was 3.37 kg]

Dr. Miranda reports that NZ’s leg radiographs look good — the leg has entirely healed.

The three Norfolk eaglets will be caught tomorrow for their bi-weekly weigh-in. NZ will also have a set of radiographs taken to monitor her leg injury.

Unlike prior Tuesday weigh-ins, the action tomorrow will happen a bit earlier in the day — to avoid the heat as much as possible. At this point, the weigh-in crew will be "going up the hill" sometime between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We’ll be able to better assess the schedule tomorrow morning and will give everyone a heads up!

9:32 a.m.

The weekly weigh-in and eaglet moving will take place today at the "usual" time — roughly 12:30 p.m. As always, any wildlife emergencies or other "unknowns" may change things — but we’ll do our best to keep everyone posted. Work continues on the double-door system for the A-pens. A-2 is ready and waiting for Bald Eagle #11-1170 from Maryland, and #11-1234 from Virginia Beach (KS).

3:17 p.m.

And the results from the weigh-in …
NZ: 4.05 kg [last weight was 3.94 kg]
NX: 4.04 kg [last week was 4.23 kg]
NV: 3.37 kg [last week was 3.43 kg]

NV’s in-house lead level registered at 0.045 ppm. The vets will likely re-check this in two weeks, though this level is quite low and is not cause for concern. Since everyone is doing quite well and weights are stable, the "weekly weigh-in" will now be turning into the "bi-weekly weigh-in".

The three eaglets will be caught every other week now for weighing as well as "foot and feather checks" — a routine check that all WCV raptor patients receive while here.

Happy American Bald Eagle Day!

While the Norfolk eaglets aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary to celebrate the day, it will be a busy "eagle" week at the WCV this week.

On Tuesday, the four eaglets will be caught for their weekly weigh-in. The Norfolk trio will also have some blood drawn for their monthly complete blood count and NV will have another in-house lead test just to monitor his levels.

The big change will be to A-2 — the other "arm" of the A-pen flight complex. Bald Eagle #11-1170, the young eagle from Maryland, has been doing quite well this past week and is ready for a larger enclosure. To ensure things aren’t too chaotic — and to make sure there is enough food for all — the Maryland bird will be moved into A-2.  Bald Eagle #11-1234, KS, will say good-bye to the Norfolk eaglets and will join the Maryland eaglet.

Dr. Dave and the rehabilitation crew are making the needed modifications to the flight pens for this transition. The temporary wall that was erected when the Norfolk birds first arrived will be taken down. The sliding door that allows the A-pen complex to be one, continuous, L-shaped pen will be closed. Netting will be hung at each of the flight pens to help protect the birds against those "crash landings" that sometimes happen.

Work continues on the "double door" system leading into both of the A-pens — this is something that will make things safer for these eaglets as well as all future patients housed in this area!

And … caught in action! A glimpse of the "mystery plant" that keeps appearing on- and off- cam …

It’s been an exciting week in eaglet-land … new friends, new water tubs, and today — the first close-encounter fly-by of the webcam! The staff wondered if this would happen at any point, since the cam is mounted on the wall. One nimble-fingered cam watcher was able to capture a screen shot of the trouble-maker:

After 15 minutes of the "new view" of the flight pen wall, Dr. Kelly went up to readjust the camera.

Who knows what the weekend will bring!

8:25 a.m.
NZ will return to her siblings this afternoon — the plan for the day is to gather materials at about 12:30 p.m. [barring any other wildlife emergencies] and the weigh-in crew will make their way up to the flight pens to catch NX and NV for their weekly weigh-in. Once NV and NX are weighed and are back in their enclosure, a staff member will bring NZ into the flight pen.

And that’s not all! After discussing the numerous eagle cases at the Wildlife Center, the veterinary team has decided to put Bald Eagle #11-1234 in the flight pen as well. After reports of not flying all that well [after the original rescue and attempted releases], it will be beneficial to see how the bird does in a larger space. Plus, having eagle friends is always nice too! As for distinguishing characteristics to tell who’s who — the Virginia Beach bird is also banded [KS] and is missing several tail feathers.

NV will not have his lead levels checked today — the outside lab results came in at the end of last week, reading at 0.07 ppm. This has decreased from the previous outside lab test performed. Veterinarians will re-check him next week at the weigh-in just to monitor trends.

3:28 p.m.
The weigh-in went well today — with a pretty impressive mid-air capture of NX by Dr. Miranda! The reintroduction of NZ and introduction of KS went quite well — after a little bit of time on the ground, following bit a little bit of time on the A-frame perch, both birds flew up to the swinging perch.

Results from the weigh-in:

NZ: 3.94 kg [last weight was 3.82 kg]
NX: 4.23 kg [last week was 4.18 kg]
NV: 3.43 kg [last week was 3.33 kg]
KS: 4.02 kg [incoming weight was 3.85 kg]

Our latest update from our "tech guy" is that we may NOT be doing a cam switch tomorrow — a few issues with our cam order, but we’ll keep everyone up to date!

Bald Eagle #11-0474, NZ, was brought into the WCV clinic today for a set of follow-up radiographs. The news:  there is a callous! Dr. Miranda could feel the well-formed callous on NZ’s injured leg, and radiographs confirmed that a nice, bony callous has formed over the chip fracture.

NZ was returned to her large airline crate for the day so that she can fully recover from anesthesia. While NZ still has some healing to do, she is strong enough to be placed back in the flight pen with her siblings. The vet staff will do this tomorrow afternoon at the weekly weigh-in for NX and NV.

On another note, here’s an early warning:  the Wildlife Center is getting ready for a major internet upgrade on Wednesday — so the WCV network (including cam) will be down in the wee hours of the morning on June 15. The switch will be made at 4:30 a.m. and things may be down for a couple of hours. Everyone can sleep in!

Here are several photos that were taken at the June 7 weigh-in — for your enjoyment!

On June 8, the eagle cam was turned so that viewers could catch all the action happening at the far end of the flight pen. Since the staff have to turn the cam manually, this won’t be going back and forth each day — but we figured that this is where the action will be happening, including longer flights and playing in the water tub.

Because the far end of the enclosure isn’t lit, and the eaglets will likely return to the nest at night, the webcam will be offline from dusk to dawn to conserve bandwidth and costs for WVEC.

NX and NV certainly seem to be enjoying their new area — both have been seen flying the full length of the enclosure and are doing very well. Because they have been gradually eating less during the day, the rehabilitation staff have opted to make one final transition with the feeding schedule — the eaglets will now be fed just once a day. This feeding will occur in the late afternoon, at the time when all other raptor feeding is done at the WCV. Staff will drop off a variety of rats, fish, and quail and will likely scatter the food on the ground in a few different places.

NZ continues to rest comfortably while her leg heals — she’s been seen standing more often during the past couple of days. Hopefully all will be well during her radiograph session on Monday June 13, and she will be able to join her siblings.

11:46 a.m.

And we’re live! The webcam is back on this morning, in preparation for the eaglets' arrival at about 12:30 p.m. today. We’ve taken some additional photos of the completed pen just to give you a sense of what’s going on "behind" the camera.

3:59 p.m.

NX and NV returned to the nest at about 1:00 p.m. After taking a couple of hours to settle in, NV tested things out — with a quick hop to the A-frame perch, followed by a bigger hop/flight to the swinging perch, followed by an even bigger hop/flight back to the nest!

Results from today’s weigh-in:
NV: 3.33 kg (last week was 3.42 kg)
NX: 4.18 kg (last week was 4.26 kg) Both are in good body condition.

NV also had another blood draw to follow up on his lead levels post-treatment. The results:  0.04 ppm — down from the last in-house test of 0.062 ppm. A sample was also sent to an outside lab.

The Kjellstrom & Lee work crew finished up the flight pen renovation on Saturday evening — special thanks to them giving up their Saturdays to get the job done!

With construction finished, a number of perches were set up for the eaglets as they start to make short flights out of their nest area. A couple of other final modifications are  underway this Monday afternoon, including a final sweep of the area with a large magnet to make sure all stray nails are picked up after the renovation. Netting will also be hung at the far end of the flight pen — something that the WCV does for all eagle patients in these larger enclosures. The netting helps slow down any fast-flying eagles if they over-shoot their perch at the end of the enclosure.

In other news, the veterinary team took another set of radiographs on NZ’s leg today. At this point, the site of injury is unchanged — meaning that a callous has not formed yet over the small chip fracture. According to Dr. Miranda, a fibrous callous may be forming — but this wouldn’t be seen on the radiographs. What all this means is that NZ will need to continue her cage rest. Additional radiographs are scheduled for Monday June 13.

As long as all final flight pen preparations are finished today, NX and NV will be returned to their nest — and the newly renovated 100' flight pen — on Tuesday. Please stay tuned for more details.

4:32 p.m.

Just a quick tease from the webcam — things are coming together! Just a couple more final preparations to make for tomorrow’s reintroduction.

8:24 a.m.
The work crew from Kjellstrom & Lee [Staunton branch] is here bright and early again to start work on the "A-pens" — where the eaglets will soon be living. It’s a nice cool morning here in Waynesboro — a nice climate for getting some outdoor work done!

Yesterday, our photographer friend Mike Tripp came out to take photos of the work being done — these are far better than any of the in-house ones we’ve taken here!

NV’s chelation therapy finished yesterday afternoon. He will have another blood draw on Tuesday, June 7 for a lead re-check. The analysis will be done both in-house as well as sent out to another lab for comparison.

11:36 a.m.
NZ is continuing to spend at least some of her time laying down in her crate — that’s what she was doing when she was caught up for morning medications today. Today is her last day of the opioid painkillers — we’ll continue to monitor her closely. Another set of radiographs will be taken on Monday June 6.1:00 p.m.

Friends at WHSV were out earlier today to film a brief clip about the flight pen renovations, as well as the visit from a representative from Air Wisconsin. Tune in tonight to watch — even if you’re out of the area of coverage, they offer the news live on their website!

1:42 p.m.
Video tour of the A-pens.

4:24 p.m.
The Kjellstrom & Lee guys will be back out tomorrow — Saturday — and should be able to complete the A-pen project. Special thanks to them to giving up their Saturday for this big project!

In looking at the week ahead — the eaglets should be able to return to the enclosure early next week. This is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, once the construction is done, the rehab staff will need to get everything cleaned and ready. A number of perches will have to be added in the A-pen for the eaglets as they start to take bigger flights. To give the staff enough time to complete everything [with an already very high case load here], we’ll need to give them time on Sunday to do this.

NZ will have another set of radiographs taken on Monday June 6. If a callous is well-formed by that point and NZ is readily standing, she may be able to go back outside at that point.

Another thing that is coming into play is that all three eaglets have started treatment for capillaria. This parasite was recently found in a couple of fecal examinations.

The WCV conducts these routine diagnostic tests on all patients at the Wildlife Center. In the case of three siblings that share an enclosure, a "pooled sample" is taken — meaning that a few different samples are used in this test. The rehab staff have been trying to collect samples in the past few weeks — though only lucked out with some "fresh stuff" lately — hence the recent diagnosis.

Capillaria is a parasite that lives in the digestive tract of its host — and it’s very commonly found in wild birds. Because these birds are in captivity, and we’re able to treat — there’s really no reason not to. That way, we can ensure all of our patients are as healthy as possible and aren’t shedding the parasite into their enclosures.

The treatment for this parasite is an oral de-wormer and the course of treatment lasts five days. This means that the final day of treatment would be Tuesday, June 7 — on the next scheduled weigh-in. For that reason, it may be best to return to the eaglets to their enclosure on Tuesday — but we’ll need to reassess how everything is going on Monday and will make a decision then.

5:09 p.m.
Things are coming along! This photo is taken from the far end of A-1, looking back towards the nest-end.

And a shot from the webcam — just testing things in-house. There is a nice amount of lighting coming in the flight pen — even at this time of day.

8:28 a.m.

Work has started on the eaglets' future flight pen! We’ll provide a few photo updates here today, so you can get an idea of how things are coming together, and how quickly the crew from Kjellstrom & Leeare working. It’s forecasted to be clear and in the 80’s both today and tomorrow — so no rain should get in the way of the plans! A "before" photo:

10:02 a.m.

On a side note, there have been a few questions about the specifics of NZ’s small chip fracture. It may be a little hard to understand exactly what’s going on with the leg in looking at the radiographs — in the side view of the leg, it almost looks like there is a "broken toothpick." Dr. Dave probably spent too much time putting together this explanation — but it goes into great detail about leg anatomy for those that are interested!

From Dr. Dave: In order to fully assess the fracture, you must look at two different views taken at 90 degree angles from each other. This will help to explain the fracture. I’ve created two models to help explain the views, then I’ll move to the explanation.

  1. In the side view (lateral), it appears as if there is a “broken toothpick” and the fracture appears as several non-parallel lines. This can be seen in the following model:
  2. By looking at the cranial/caudal view (the x-ray is taken front to back), the fracture appears as an arcing black line and the resulting “free” bone piece is in the shape of a half circle:
  3. Anatomy: In the location of the fracture, the cross-section of the bone is shaped somewhat like a teardrop with a ridge line running up and down the bone on the medial side (the inner portion of the leg). The fracture runs up and down this ridge and the chip is slightly angled so that it doesn’t line up perfectly with the plane of the ridge. This is a very thin ridge and easily broken.
  4. During the healing process, cells called fibroblasts and osteoblasts produce new callous and bone cells respectively. The callous will help stabilize the fragment until the new bone secures it permanently. Once stabilized, a combination of osteoblasts (make bone) and osteoclasts (breaks down and remodels bones) act according to pressures from the muscles and tendons, to remodel the shape of the bone back to the normal conformation. So despite the fact that the bones don’t look perfectly aligned, this will heal and change back to the normal shape with time.

Hopefully model #3 helps give a better visualization as to how this may have happened — again, the human analogy here would be smacking your shin into the coffee table. NZ ate her dinner last night, which is good — sometimes the pain medications can have an affect on appetite. This morning, she was laying down resting in her crate — we hope she continues to take it easy so that she heals quickly!

1:30 p.m.

Board placement is underway — after staging all the equipment and tearing down most of the netting, the crew started with a difficult portion of the pen — one that required some careful measuring around the sliding door to the enclosure.

5:48 p.m.

Progress is being made on the eaglets' flight pen — the crew will be back tomorrow early to continue!

Kurt, our "tech guy" came out to look at things this afternoon — since he’ll be out of town next week, he wanted to make sure we could safely re-mount the camera for the new view of the pen. After a lot of strategizing — taking into account what we have to work with in this space — the camera was re-mounted.

The new view of the enclosure: Additional tweaking will be necessary once the eaglets really start to fly — and by then, the WCV should have its very own camera as well, which may be slightly different than this particular model. But for the short term — this will provide a good view of the nest, branches, and area where other perches will be added as the eaglets really start to come out of their old enclosure and venture into the new one.

8:25 a.m.

With the hustle and bustle of Tuesday [30 patients were admitted!], we didn’t get a chance to post the results of the weekly weigh-in.

Here they are:
#11-0474: NZ: 3.98 kg (last week was 4.17 kg)
#11-0475: NX: 4.26 kg (last week was 4.28 kg)
#11-0476: NV: 3.42 kg (last week was 3.51 kg)

This makes sense, given that NV and NZ have been very active lately — while NX has been a little slower to leave the nest. Also, this weigh-in was done first thing in the morning — before the eaglets had breakfast.

11:36 a.m.

The report at morning rounds was that NZ was incredibly feisty this morning when she was caught up for her medications. She did just fine inside overnight. NV and NX also did just fine in their new temporary quarters for the night — both were active and perching earlier this morning. Four guys from Kjellstrom & Lee [Staunton branch] came to the WCV this morning to look at the eaglets' future flight pen and get a feel for the layout of the Center.   They’ll be mobilizing the troops and gathering up their needed equipment — we should hear from them later today on their schedule for the remainder of the week. At least four employees will be on the job - -and remember, they are donating their time. We’re extremely grateful for their expertise and work in this important renovation project! In the meantime, for your eaglet fix:  NX and NV in their temporary enclosure.

4:57 p.m.

Great news — the crew from Kjellstrom & Lee [Staunton branch] will be out tomorrow morning to start work on the eaglets' future flight pen! They’ve rearranged their schedule so that they can get to work right away. We’ll have more updates tomorrow, as they’re happening.

We received word early Tuesday morning that our work crew was able to come out for the day to get the lumber  "staged" and ready for flight pen renovation.

As discussed before, since there would be a fair amount of activity and noise around the eaglets' area, we thought it best to temporarily move them to a more isolated pen. The usual weigh-in crew made their way up to the enclosure shortly after 8:00 am to catch up the eaglets, weigh them, give NV his first lead treatment, and then move them into another enclosure for the day.

When Dr. Miranda, Leigh-Ann, and Suzy first went into the eaglet’s enclosure, they noticed NZ holding her foot up. This appeared to be different than the usual “relaxed” stance that birds of prey sometimes take – and when the WCV crew attempted to capture her, she tried  to hop away while not putting weight on her left leg. This all  happened “cam right” – out on the stair-step branches.

While NV and NX were settled into another outdoor enclosure, NZ was brought into the clinic. Radiographs were taken and Dr. Miranda and Dr. Dave confirmed a small chip fracture on the inside of NZ’s left leg, right above her band. This sort of fracture is not one typically seen in wildlife arriving at the WCV, only because it is a fairly minor injury.

Dr. Dave surmises that NZ ran into something this morning – that this sort of fracture was caused by a blunt force. It’s hard to say what exactly happened, but this is not the sort of injury that she would typically receive from a sibling or becoming entangled. Because there was very little swelling around the fracture site and no bruising, the injury most likely occurred within the past 12 hours.

To give a sense of comparison, this would be equivalent to a person banging a shin really hard on something — this sort of thing can result in small chip fractures in people too. We know that this sort of injury hurts quite a bit at first, but isn’t a devastating injury. If NZ had done this in the wild, she likely would’ve kept on going — albeit a bit more slowly for a few days. Since we are able to treat her pain and monitor her closely, we don’t see a reason not to do so.

NZ will be housed in a small enclosure for at least the next five days – away from her siblings. Keeping her quiet and rested will be important so that a callous can start to form. She’s received anti-inflammatories and pain meds and no casting or bandaging will be necessary. Once additional radiographs confirm that her fracture is well calloused, she will return back to the pen with her siblings.

In other news, nearly all of the lumber has made it up to the future flight pen. Contractors from Kjellstrom & Lee will likely be in Wednesday to begin putting up the boards in the flight pen. They’ll be donating their time – please join us in thanking them!

Because the eaglets would only have to be moved again Wednesday morning, the vet staff decided not to move the eaglets back in the nest enclosure tonight.  Since the eaglets are becoming more flighted, the staff felt it best to minimize handling if there’s no real need to do so.

On May 27, NV’s outside lab results came in, showing that his most recent lead levels were 0.11 ppm – higher than the reading on the WCV’s in-house lead testing machine. The two machines use different technology to measure blood lead levels. While the Center’s in-house  machine is excellent at measuring trends and lead-level ranges, the more expensive dedicated lab machine is better able to pinpoint lead levels.

Because NV’s lead levels persist, the veterinary team has decided to start a short round of chelation therapy. While the lead levels detected  in NV are actually below the levels at which the veterinarians would normally start treatment, we will treat NV to assist his body in eliminating the lead. This will ensure that we are giving him the best chance to develop and thrive normally.

During the treatment, veterinarians will inject a CaEDTA solution under the skin on NV’s upper thigh. This “chelator” will bind to the lead to take it out of the blood – essentially “scrubbing” the blood clean. The medication needs to be administered twice a day, and the course of treatment will last three days. After the treatment is completed, another lead test will be performed and the blood will be analyzed both in-house and at the outside lab.

Treatment will start tomorrow – Tuesday, May 31. Because the team will need to catch NV to treat him, they will be doing the weekly Tuesday weigh-in at the morning treatment time, which will roughly be between 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

In other news, lumber for the flight pen renovations arrived today. Sometime within the next two or three days, a crew will be at the Wildlife Center to haul the lumber up to the flight enclosure. We should know more information tomorrow about the schedule for the rest of the week.

However, here’s the word of warning:  when work is being done on the flight enclosures, the eaglets will be moved for the day to a different outdoor enclosure at the WCV. This means that if the crew is able to come tomorrow, the birds will be caught up at 8:00 a.m. and moved.  The birds would then be moved back into the enclosure in the late afternoon, when NV’s second treatment is administered.

We’ll do our best to keep everyone informed of the schedule of events, but please bear with us!

Today has been an exciting day for the eaglets. Exactly one month after arriving at the Wildlife Center from the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, one of the eaglets made their first flight!

One eaglet started off the morning by moving farther away from the nest on one of the branches:

By mid-morning, Eaglet #11-0476, NV, made his first flight to the step-branches on the other side of the enclosure. Viewers tuning in after that moment were surprised to just see two eaglets in the nest — remember, the temporary cam that was erected a few weeks ago can’t pan to capture the actions that are occurring to the right!

NV continued to make this flight back and forth to the nest several more times throughout the day. Sister NZ hopped along the branch — but even she wasn’t as flighted as her younger brother.

While there’s a lot of debate as to what is truly "branching" or "fledging" in a rehabilitation setting, we feel comfortable saying that the fledgling stage has started!

9:48 a.m.

On Tuesday, May 24, #11-0476 (NV) was re-tested for lead. For the past two weeks, the lead level has been slowly decreasing. This time, veterinary technician Leigh-Ann Horne found that the lead level was mildly elevated at 0.078 ppm [up from 0.053 ppm]. The veterinary staff aren’t quite sure what to make of this elevated reading, so NV will be re-checked today [May 25]. Blood samples will also be sent to an outside lab for verification. Lead may be stored in the bones of an affected bird and may be slowly released over time. This elevated reading could be a data error or a result of his body’s attempt to purge the lead from its system. Since NV is growing, we may be seeing this slight elevation as his bones are remodeling — which may be causing lead to leach into his blood stream.     The veterinary team decided to test NX and NZ as well. Enough blood will be taken so that a complete blood count and a chemistry panel can also be run — something that all raptors receive once a month while at the WCV. The blood draw will take place at 12:30 p.m. today.

1:50 p.m.

This afternoon’s blood draw went well — everything went very quickly, despite the fact that the eaglets put up quite a fuss! NV in particular was very defensive and tough to capture. The in-house lead results are in: NZ: low NX: low NV: 0.062 ppm For NZ and NX, "low" is considered normal. On our lead machine, there is no "zero" reading — those eagles and other raptors that don’t have any lead in their system will read as "low."  So nothing to worry about there — certainly no contaminated food sources at the WCV, which we didn’t think was the case to begin with. NV’s lead levels were lower than yesterday’s reading [0.078 ppm] but still higher than last week’s reading. A blood sample was sent to a lab in Ohio for another test, just so we can compare the results to the in-house reading. At this point, there’s nothing to worry about — overall, this is still a fairly low reading, meaning no treatment is needed. And we certainly know that NV has not been lethargic or weak!

Time for the weekly weigh-in … and the numbers from today:
#11-0474:NZ:  4.17 kg (last week was 4.39 kg)
#11-0475: NX: 4.28 kg (last week was 4.41 kg)
#11-0476: NV: 3.51 kg (last week was 3.67 kg)

All are doing well!

Apparently, someone decided to kick off this week with a bit of adventure — shortly after 6:00 a.m. this morning, NV tumbled out of the nest and fluttered to the ground. In reality, this did look more like an accident than a decision to go and explore. After he spent a little more than an hour of hanging out on the ground, Dr. Miranda retrieved him and put him back in the nest. Because NV hasn’t branched yet or ventured out of the nest at all [other than sitting on the edges] the staff felt that he would likely not figure out how to get back up to the nest on his own.

In other news, renovations on the eaglets' future flight pen will begin within the next week.  Because there was some storm damage this season to the netting on the two largest flight pens, the WCV staff have opted to make some modifications — to keep everyone as safe as possible! Boards will be erected on the walls of the flight pen — these boards will replace the netting and is quite similiar in design to all the other flight pens at the Center.  We expect that lumber will arrive later this week — and construction by our friends at Kjellstrom & Lee will begin next week. Weekly weigh-in is on track for tomorrow [May 24] at about 12:30 p.m.!

2:16 p.m.

The two most active eaglets of the early afternoon were NV and NX — while eldest eaglet NZ has been relaxing. Everyone was off to a slow start eating this morning’s breakfast — the mixed entree of rats and fish didn’t hold much interest for the eaglets until mid-afternoon. For the first time today, the rats were not slit open for the eaglets — presenting a greater challenge for them to "dig in."

Bald Eagle #11-0165 continues to serve at the eaglets' "role model" in the other half of the enclosure.

The three eaglets had their weekly weigh-in today. #11-0476, NV, also had another blood draw to recheck his lead level.

The weights today:
#11-0474:NZ: 4.39 kg (last week was 4.32 kg)
#11-0475: NX: 4.41 kg (last week was 4.1 kg)
#11-0476: NV: 3.67 kg (last week was 3.42 kg)

Since all are eating well and gaining weight, their food has been reduced to two feedings a day. Wildlife rehabilitator Suzy Doell reports that the eaglets haven’t been eating all of their food at each feeding — with the lunchtime meal being the least eaten — which shows us that they are ready for twice-a-day feedings. They’re certainly growing up! NV’s lead level was 0.053 ppm today — down from 0.055 ppm last week. This is still a low lead level and is no cause for concern. For more questions and answers on lead, please review our posting from May 2. Unfortunately, some eagle-watchers have been experiencing webcam issues this week. The WCV tech person (and board member) has been working on this, and we hope to resolve these issues soon. Right now, cam viewers aren’t missing too much — it’s been a very rainy, dark day in Waynesboro, and everyone has been laying low for the most part.

11:12 a.m.

Yesterday evening, several eaglet watchers noticed that NV, #11-0476, was limping. This was brought to our attention, and WCV staff tuned in to observe — by then, the eaglets had settled down for the evening. Cam watchers were on alert all night and into this morning but so far, it doesn’t appear that NV is limping anymore. He had a very active day yesterday — and so did his sisters!

It can be tough to tell what happened, though we’re hoping that the issue has been resolved — perhaps he was stepped on by one of his siblings or overdid it with flapping and perching. We’ll keep checking on him.

The additional drama of the morning was the visitor that walked by the eaglets enclosure — a young black bear! Some early risers were treated to the sight and one managed to catch a screen capture as the bear was ambling by. This was certainly a treat to see — but no cause for concern. The Wildlife Center is partially in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests and there are definitely bears here! It makes us wonder how often this really does happen without our knowledge.

Both of these events emphasize how different life is with a webcam — without a cam to catch the limping, or the bear visitor, none of us would’ve been the wiser!

9:00 a.m.

We imagine there are many people reaching for the coffee this morning after staying up too late watching the eaglets last night. We were pleased to discover that Dr. Dave’s quick fix of the infrared light source worked yesterday — we now have night vision! The fix?  He reset the breaker that the light was plugged into. Yes, sometimes things are truly quick fixes. Despite the fact that the picture last night looked as though someone switched on a light bulb — this is a very low amount of infrared light. According to colleagues at the Houston Nature Center, to the IR cameras, the dome illuminator looks like a light bulb on the ceiling. To the birds (and humans), they just see a very faint red glow. This should not have any effect on the eaglets at all — just on the humans that are staying up all night to see what goes on! Meanwhile, NZ (#11-0474) seems to be teasing the world by regularly checking out the newly added branches to the eaglets' nest. While she hasn’t made a first big branching attempt yet, we suspect that it won’t be long now!

4:16 p.m.

Lots of teasing today from NZ, but she didn’t manage to branch out any further on her new "furniture" — yet. Everyone was very active throughout the day and spend a lot of time perching and looking around, as well as playing with pine cones, sticks, and feathers. Many often assume that when one eaglet is laying down, it must be NV — not so, today! Sister NX spent some time laying down while NZ and NV were up and about.

12:44 p.m.
The eaglets were caught up today for their weekly weigh-in and nest-cleaning. Dr. Miranda, wildlife rehabilitator Suzy Doell, and veterinary technician Leigh-Ann Horne each caught up one of the eaglets and placed them in an enclosed tub for weighing. The trio weighed in at:

#11-0474: NZ: 4.32 kg (last week was 3.41 kg)
#11-0475: NX: 4.1 kg (last week was 3.88 kg)
#11-0476: NV: 3.42 kg (last week was 4.015 kg)

As you can see, there were some fluctuations in this week’s weights. This could be due to a number of reasons — NV may have eaten a large meal last week prior to last week’s weighing … he may have had a light breakfast today … and perhaps the opposite is true of older sister NZ. We’re not excluding simple human error too — though the vet staff swear they checked and re-checked bands and weights last week and today!

Either way, it appears that all eaglets are doing well and getting their fair share of food. In addition to the weights, Dr. Miranda did a quick physical exam on each just to get an idea of their body condition. All are in good shape.

NV did have additional blood drawn today — while the vets initially didn’t plan on doing this, they decided to this morning since the bird would already been in hand. Trace amounts of lead levels did register — 0.055 ppm (parts per million) — which just shows that a tiny bit of lead is still present in his system. This reading is lower than the initial lead test upon arrival. The veterinary team will re-check again next week, but no treatment is needed, and NV is not showing any symptoms.

Just to provide some comparison — even at last week’s weigh-in, the eaglets surpassed the weights of many of the adult Bald Eagles at the Wildlife Center. We don’t expect the weights to necessarily continue to increase as the weeks go by — rather, as the young birds begin flapping more and developing flight muscles, we may see some natural fluctuations in the weights.

The other Bald Eagles at the WCV currently weigh:

  • Bald Eagle #11-0230: 4.59 kg (we suspect this is a female due to the large size)
  • Bald Eagle #11-0165: 3.45 kg
  • Bald Eagle #11-0136: 3.49 kg
  • Buddy: 3 kg

Since the eaglets' activity level has been increasing over the past few days and more time has been spent around the edges of the nest, additional branches were added. Two of these branches will provide a "bridge" over to the stair-step perches that were set up around the sides of their enclosure.

The worst thing about this addition: if the eaglets decided to "walk off-screen" — we can’t follow! This camera cannot pan around the enclosure. Remember, this was a loaner cam that was hastily installed within 48 hours of the eaglets' arrival — so things are not 100% yet. We will be working on making improvements within the next couple of weeks.

Cam viewers may have also noticed that pine cones were added to the nest this morning — just some "toys" for the eaglets! Some feathers were added after today’s cleaning as well. A fish lunch was served.

There have been several questions as to which eaglet is which — it’s definitely getting hard to tell on the cam! Within the past few days, there seems to be a remarkable difference in activity levels — all three eaglets are becoming more active and are about the same size now. While the birds were in hand today, we were able to take pictures to get a better idea of the unique markings that they each have. When the resolution of our webcam improves, we may be able to zoom in on band numbers, but until then, we hope this will help.

9:15 a.m.

Those tuning in to the webcam this morning probably saw some vigorous tearing of the breakfast food — the eaglets were served cut-open, whole rats this morning!   Fish meals in the past day have also been in much larger pieces. The eaglets seem to be taking well to this next step of tearing up the food on their own. The plates that everyone has been getting used to seeing may be used less in the days to come if the eaglets leave less of a mess to clean up. Bald Eagle #11-0165 was moved into the other half of the flight pen enclosure on Saturday, May 7. We suspect that this eagle is a male based on his size. He seems to be settling in well. The eagle has limited flight due to the wing injury that makes him non-releasable, so the rehabilitation staff have provided a variety of low perches for this bird.

Once repairs are completed on the other half of the eaglets' enclosure this weekend, an adult eagle will be moved in to become the eaglets' next "role model." At this point, the plan is to move Bald Eagle #11-0165, an adult that was admitted in March from King and Queen County, Virginia. Another special delivery arrived for the eaglets today — another package full of notes and letters! Website updates will cease for the weekend — in the meantime, enjoy the cam and we’ll reconnect via updates on Monday!

2:40 p.m.

What’s this? Cam viewers this afternoon were surprised to see Dr. Dave, Suzy, and a ladder make an appearance on the eagle cam. Dr. Dave was installing an IR dome illuminator on the ceiling of the eaglet enclosure. This will provide a small amount of lighting so that the night vision in the camera can be used. According to colleagues at the Houston Nature Center, to the IR cameras, the dome illuminator looks like a light bulb on the ceiling. To the birds (and humans), they just see a faint red glow. This should not have any effect on the eaglets at all. Otherwise, it’s been a quiet day at the nest. The eaglets were served some very small mice this morning for breakfast, just to offer a little variety.

3:06 p.m.

Mail has been pouring into the Center over the past week — and for the past few days, the eaglets have started getting their own mail!

On Friday, June 3, Annette Daly, Director of Corporate Learning and Communications for Air Wisconsin, visited the Wildlife Center. Ed gave Annette a tour, including a visit to the flight enclosure that is currently under remodeling, as well as a meet-n-greet with Buddy the Bald Eagle. Annette also presented a check from Air Wisconsin to help support the Center’s care of the eaglets.

“The airstrike at the Norfolk airport was an unavoidable and tragic accident,” Ed Clark said. “Air Wisconsin has stepped up and been a responsible corporate citizen, and we are grateful for their special support.”

In a letter to Ed, Annette wrote, “Although nothing can replace the care of a mother, our sincere hope is that the eaglets will grow into healthy adults and enjoy long lives. They are very fortunate to have you and your trained and caring staff to nurture them, and prepare them for release. Many thanks for all you’ve done for these precious, young, and majestic birds.”

Air Wisconsin is the largest independently held regional airline in the United States, serving about 70 cities throughout North America and carrying six million passengers a year.

2:20 p.m.

Today marks one week since the eaglets arrived at the Center — and life as we know it changed! All three eaglets are doing well today. There seems to be some "playing" in between naps — the eaglets appear to be enjoying some sticks and feathers that were added to the nest after it was cleaned yesterday.

4:35 p.m.

Today has been a frustrating day at the Wildlife Center. Earlier this morning, it was discovered that Bald Eagle #11-207 "self-released". The limb of a tree outside the enclosure apparently damaged the specialized fabric used for the walls of the 85-foot-long cage where #11-207 was housed.   Taking advantage of the tear in the side wall, the eagle squeezed through the hole in the fabric and performed what the Center calls a “self-release”. Please read the additional information here.

11:35 a.m.

NZ was spotted perched on the edge of the nest this morning — all were up and active after eating a hearty goose meat breakfast.

 12:47 p.m.

The WCV team caught all three eaglets today for a scheduled weigh-in. It’s important to the staff to keep tabs on the eaglets' weights to ensure that all are receiving their fair share of food. The rehab staff will also use the new weights to recalculate the amount of food given to the eaglets throughout the day. Once caught and weighed, the eaglets spent a few additional minutes in an enclosed tub so that the rehab staff could clean the nest area. The walls surrounding the nest were washed. Wildlife rehabilitator Suzy Doell also spent a few extra minutes picking small fish and goose bits out of the nest. This will help keep flies and other insects from being attracted to the nest. #11-0476 — NV — also had another blood sample taken. This blood was immediately re-checked in the Center’s lead analyzer machine.   The results:  the lead level came in at "low", which means too low to measure. That means that the lead resolve on its own and no treatment is needed.

As for the weights — a bit of a surprise today! Today the eaglets weighed in at:

#11-0474: NZ: 3.41 kg (lost a little weight)
#11-0475: NX: 3.88 kg (gained 400 grams)
#11-0476: NV: 4.015 kg! This is a 1 kg increase from Friday. The smallest eaglet is now the heaviest!

10:29 a.m.

The WCV’s tech team were hard at work this weekend, performing some scheduled network and website maintenance, as well as webcam fine-tuning. In short, we’re getting there. Some improvements were made, and we should be seeing more over the next week. Within the next two days, the webcam should improve in quality. We’re also working on the night vision as well. As many viewers noted, we are playing with an additional layer of netting on the back  of the eaglets' pen — this is to darken the bright light that is being reflected off of the leaves in the woods outside of their pen. The eaglets did well this weekend — as many cam viewers saw, they are being served three meals a day. Meals vary between fish and goose meat — sometimes a mix of both. This provides them with a healthy variety in their diet.

4:39 p.m.

Since some of our network and website issues were ironed out this past weekend, let’s take a step back in time — to last Thursday, April 28. As you know, the three eaglets each received a thorough examination by the WCV’s veterinary staff — a routine procedure for every patient that comes through the Center. All three eaglets were found to be healthy, but Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center’s Director of Veterinary Services, provides a more thorough explanation, as well as one interesting finding.

Update from Dr. Dave A full physical exam was performed on the Norfolk Botanical Gardens eaglets over a two-day period last week. This was done to ensure they are healthy and to obtain some baseline data in preparation for their stay with us. On the first day [April 27], Dr. Miranda Sadar and I examined the following parts of the birds:

  • the new blood feathers, to make sure they weren’t damaged in transit;
  • the bones and joints in the wings and legs, to ensure there were no fractures;
  • the feet, to make sure there were no lesions;
  • the eyes, to take ocular pressures and the retinas to make sure there were no lesions;
  • the whole body for wounds; and
  • the mouth and skin flaps to assess hydration.

All of the birds passed with flying colours. The vets also obtained weights on the birds and took a blood sample to assess hydration, blood protein levels, and blood glucose. Finally, a small portion of the blood was taken for an ongoing lead study in which the Wildlife Center is participating, along with the Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative;  an interdisciplinary collaboration of organizations that share the view that wild animals presented to rehabilitation centers can be a source of valuable data for monitoring the health of free-ranging wildlife. In this lead study, we measure blood lead levels from all eagles, loons, vultures, and swans admitted to participating wildlife rehabilitation centers to assess the prevalence of lead in these species. Interestingly, #11-0476 – NV – had low blood lead levels of 0.127 ppm (parts per million), indicating recent exposure. Other than the lead finding, all other health parameters for the three eaglets appear normal at this time.

Q&A with Dr. Dave regarding the low lead levels discovered in NV:

Q:  How is it that there’s lead in the male but not the females?
A:  Basically, this means that there is not a widespread contaminated source. The most likely source of lead contamination is through the ingestion of a lead object. This could be a lead bullet fragment embedded in the prey or perhaps a lead fishing sinker embedded in a fish.

Q:  So this is probably from something that he was fed?  What if he swallowed a lead sinker? 
A:  Yes, it is likely from something that the eaglet was fed. If NV ate the lead from the fish, duck, coot, etc., it would have been digested in his stomach and then absorbed into his bloodstream. On x-ray, we could see no trace of a lead object so it has either pasted in the feces or has been totally absorbed.

Q:  So how is the Center treating the lead?
A:  At this time NV is doing VERY well and the lead although present, is likely too low to have any long-term effects. We have not seen any clinical signs. We will, however, perform another blood draw tomorrow [May 3] so that we can monitor his lead levels. At that time, we expect that the reading will either be the same, since not much time as really elapsed since the first blood draw, or the reading will be lower if it has been taken up into the bones where it will cease to be a problem. If, on the other hand, the lead levels are further elevated, we will begin to remove the lead through the administration of drugs – a process called chelation.

Q:  Is the lead the reason this eaglet is so much quieter than his sisters?
A:  It’s unlikely, though it is possible.

Q:  What would the clinical signs look like?
A:  Although measurable in NV, the lead concentrations were not high enough to create clinical signs. In eagles, lead typically affects the nervous system and the gastrointestinal system although eyesight and the respiratory system may also be affected.

Q:  How common is it to find lead levels in eagles?
A:   During the first 6 months of the study, 49% of the eagles admitted from participating rehab centers, like NV, were subclinical for lead (measurable amounts in the blood but no clinical signs) , 13% were showing clinical signs of lead toxicity, and 8-9% of the cases were still pending. The remainder had normal values.

9:30 a.m.

The eaglets are resting comfortably this morning. The quick food report is that they ate — though didn’t finish all of their fish. This is to be expected — at this point, the staff are over-serving them just to ensure there’s plenty for all. The staff are just tweaking a few more things in their enclosure, so that once the chicks are moved in, the staff won’t have to spend much time in the enclosure. We expect that they’ll be moved late this morning — yes, photos and videos can be expected! In the meantime, the WCV had an early morning delivery:  84 pounds of fish. This special delivery was made to ensure that the WCV has enough fresh fish to feed to the eaglets — and other Bald Eagle patients — over the coming months.

1:16 p.m.

The eaglets are in the nest! They actually made their way up the hill well over an hour ago — but our website traffic has been so high, it’s tough getting in to provide updates and photos! Before they were moved, all were weighed. NZ and NX stayed weighed in right about where they were two days ago. NV has gained 200 grams! Clearly he’s enjoying plenty of fish, and eating it on his own. The three eaglets are settling in to the nest; lunchtime fish was provided. While we don’t have any new news to share in regards to the webcam — there are still many things to work out with getting the feed to go live — two staff members are able to monitor the eaglets via the webcam. This is great for updates to all of you, the cyber-family out there — but also extremely helpful from a rehabilitation standpoint.

In answer to a few questions …

Q:  Why isn’t the nest higher?
A:  While the eaglets are used to the high life in the wild, in a rehab setting, it’s much easier on the humans to keep them only 4 feet off the ground. Caretakers need to be able to access the eaglets and also need to drop off food regularly. This height will also be safer, in case any of the birds do tumble out of the nest.

Q:  How big is the nest?
A:  The nest is about six feet across. It’s triangular in shape.

Q:  What are those stair things in the picture?
A:  We purchased some staircase risers to attach "branches" to — this is for later when the chicks start to branch out and explore the enclosure a bit more.

Video tour of the eaglet’s enclosure

Video of eaglets being placed in nest

6:18 p.m.

We’re live! Check out the webcam at WVEC! A disclaimer:  the resolution right now is pretty poor. This will only get better — we have more things to do next week, and in the coming weeks too. This is as good as we could get it for the short term! Also, please know that everything at the WCV — phones, website, webcam — will be down on Sunday morning from about 8:00 am to noon. Please bear with us! The eaglets are doing very well in their new nest. They’ve been eating well today too — a lighter lunch, but a large dinner. Right now, you’ll see (on the cam!) that they’re eating hunks of fish off of a plate. Yes, a plate — just for ease of cleaning the nest. While wild eaglets are certainly used to sitting among fish bits, we do need to keep this as clean and as fly-free as possible. This also reduces the amount of time we need to clean the nest. We want to minimize exposure to humans as much as possible. #11-0207 has been settled into the other half of this enclosure. Dr. Kelly reported that she’s doing quite well — in terms of how she’s getting around the flight pen, which is remarkable, due to her injury. Late this afternoon, Dr. Kelly checked on her and reported she was perched on the end closest to the eaglets. Remember, spotty updates this weekend — more to follow next week!

9:10 a.m.

A preliminary morning report:  the eaglets are doing well. Wildlife rehabilitator Suzy Doell provided them with a large fish last night — most of it was chopped into smaller pieces, though she also left a large hunk of fish to see how well they’re tearing on their own. As of this morning:  all fish was eaten! More reports to come after the daily "morning rounds" with the veterinary team.

11:37 a.m.

Additional diagnostics were performed today on the three eaglets. Drs. Miranda and Kelly took radiographs [x-rays] on each one; the eaglets were briefly anesthetized for this. While some may wonder why the WCV staff are performing so many diagnostics on healthy young animals — it’s all in a day’s work here. It’s WCV protocol to provide thorough physical examinations on each patient — and for all birds of prey, radiographs are taken. While these birds are healthy, we want to ensure that they didn’t have any undiagnosed injuries that they may have received in the nest — we’ve seen that sort of thing happen before with eaglet chicks! All three received a clean bill of health and are awake and alert again. An additional fish breakfast was served. Staff will try to mimic the feedings that mom and dad NBG eagles provided — in both frequency and quantity. Since we do have other tools as our disposal, the rehabilitation staff is also able to calculate how many kilo-calories these young eaglets should be receiving — so they know how many grams of food the eaglets should eat over the course of a day. All three eaglets combined should be receiving about 400 grams of fish at each feeding at this point in their development. The rehab staff are supplying approximately 700 grams of fish to ensure that each eaglet receives what they need. The weights of the eaglets yesterday upon examination were: NZ:  3.65 kilograms, or 8.03 lbs NX: 3.41 kg, or 7.50 lbs NV:  2.8 kg, or 6.16 lbs In other news, construction on the eaglets' outdoor enclosure continues. Dr. Dave reports that the work is very nearly complete; he is working to secure the area to make sure it is predator-proof. Another stick-gathering party was sent out this morning for materials. Former Education Coordinator Kelly Rourke came in this morning to oversee nest construction — she’s trying her best to channel her inner eagle to provide a sturdy, natural nest for the young ones.

A brief video clip of the breakfast delivery

3:45 p.m.

At 3:45, Dr. Dave called from the new eaglet enclosure:  "We need more sticks!"  A third session of stick-gathering was soon underway by staff and students. Nest construction continues. Otherwise, the eaglet enclosure is finished and will be ready for the eaglets tomorrow morning. It is likely that Bald Eagle patient #11-207 will be the adult eagle placed in the other half of the enclosure for the eaglets to observe. In other news, we are making real progress with getting a webcam set up in the eaglet enclosure! Thanks to the Center’s IT person [who also serves on the board of directors], a new webcam was installed in the eaglet enclosure today. WCV staff and colleagues are working very hard to make a webcam a reality — both for the staff to monitor the eaglets, as well as to reconnect these birds with their adoring cyber-family.   There are a number of challenges related to quickly setting up this webcam — one being that the eaglet enclosure is quite a distance away from the building. Wires were strung through the forest to connect this camera to the building’s network. It’s not pretty, but it works! We are currently able to get a live-feed inside our own network, though even that is very limited with current internet problems.  One of the current issues that we’re faced with is having enough bandwidth to provide the live feed to the world. The important thing to know is that this isn’t quick and easy fix — this is an issue with where the WCV is located. Essentially, to use an over-simplified analogy:  the WCV has a garden hose right now — and we need a huge water pipe! And it will take a bit of time to build a water pipe to handle the huge amount of hits to a webcam. We are working on figuring out the logistics — please be patient with us! In the meantime, the photo and video updates will continue, and we will also be able to take some screen captures of the in-house feed from the webcam. Finally, an eaglet update:  all three eaglets enjoyed their breakfast fish and were served another for lunch. All are doing well.

4:53 p.m.

We look forward to the time when we can share the webcam with the world — in the meantime, until all of those complications are ironed out — the webcam is hugely helpful in at least providing the NBG eaglet "family" with updates! Nest is nearly complete.

5:10 p.m.

Ta-da! This is one nice-looking nest if we do say so ourselves — kudos to Dr. Dave and Kelly Rourke for the construction!

5:44 p.m:  Final update of the day

One more shot from the webcam — Dr. Dave and Kelly put some finishing touches on the nest after the last posted photo. The eaglets are all resting comfortably in their indoor enclosure. They will be fed again later this evening. Tomorrow, we’ll move them into their new nest — and you guessed it, we’ll provide plenty of photos of the venture. Until tomorrow …

2:00 pm

WCV veterinary staff met this morning to create a plan for these eaglets. Once the trio arrives, they will receive a full physical exam. Blood work will also be performed so that we have some baseline information on them. The eaglets will spend at least the first night indoors. Dr. Dave McRuer and a few dedicated volunteers are currently working on modifying an outdoor flight pen — the eaglets will be housed in a fenced-off area of a pen. A large nest is being constructed — we will work to provide them with the most natural setting possible. From their area of the flight pen, they will be able to view another patient Bald Eagle, so that at least they have an adult role model to watch.

3:20 pm

The three eaglets arrived safely at the WCV. Drs. Dave McRuer and Miranda Sadar performed physical examinations on the chicks and also drew blood for analysis. The three eaglets have been set up in an indoor holding area for at least the next day while work on their modified enclosure continues.

WCV patient numbers are as follows:
#11-0474: NZ
#11-0475: NX
#11-0476: NV

Click here for a video of NX’s physical examination on the Wildlife Center’s YouTube channel.

5:51 pm

The eaglet enclosure is coming along quite nicely; Dr. Dave McRuer and volunteers Bill Sykes and Jeff Nicholson put in a ton of work today to get the job very nearly done. They have enclosed the end of one of the Center’s largest flight pens. This will allow the eaglets to be outside, with plenty of room. As they grow older and start to "branch", they’ll be able to do so quite comfortably from their constructed nest. Additionally, a Bald Eagle patient will be housed in the other part of the flight pen so that the young eaglets can observe an adult Bald Eagle.

6:33 p.m.

After the eaglets were admitted and each received a physical exam, they were placed in one of the Center’s indoor holding enclosures for the night. While the travel and physical exams were slightly stressful for the young chicks, all three are settled in together now and are resting comfortably. A large, fresh fish was offered not long ago. Rehabilitation staff will monitor the eaglets to see if they will begin to eat pieces on their own — if not, they will be hand-fed.