Bald Eagle #14-2406

December 21, 2014
February 24, 2015
Rescue Location
Surry County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Puncture wounds
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On Saturday, December 20, a group of hunters found a Bald Eagle down in the woods in Surry County, Virginia. They called for help and stayed with the eagle; rehabilitator Dana Lusher responded to the scene to capture the bird. The eagle was taken to a local veterinarian for stabilization and transported to the Wildlife Center the following day.

Dr. Meghan, the Center’s veterinary intern, examined the male eagle when it arrived. The eagle had two large puncture wounds – one on his right shoulder, and another on the left side of his chest. Dr. Meghan did not find any fractures on radiographs. Based on the appearance of the injuries, the staff suspects this eagle was in a fight with another eagle.

The eagle’s wounds were cleaned and sutured closed; the bird was started on a course of anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and pain medications. Lead results were within normal limits. The bird was placed in the Center’s holding room for the night. In the coming days, the staff will continue to clean and monitor the eagle’s wounds.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this injured Bald Eagle … and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.

Patient Updates

Bald Eagle #14-2406 was released today at Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County, Virginia. A crowd of about 40 people gathered to watch and celebrate as the eagle returned to the wild; rehabilitators Dana and Linda were in attendance to assist Ed Clark with the release and to provide updates. Linda noted that after Ed tossed the bird into the air, the eagle flew off through the trees for quite a distance before he landed in a tree to rest.

Photos courtesy of Linda Vetter:

Photos from Barbara Melton:


Bald Eagle #14-2406 has been flying well during the past week; the eagle’s flights are strong and the bird has been consistently flying about 15-17 passes in the A1 flight pen. On Monday, February 16, the veterinary staff drew blood for pre-release analysis. Results came back within normal limits, and Dr. Helen declared the bird ready for release.

The Bald Eagle will be released at Chippokes Plantation State Park on Tuesday, February 24 at 12:30 p.m. Wildlife Center president Ed Clark will attend the release, which is open to the public. Those wishing to attend the release are asked to RSVP to Lacy at Attendees should meet at the Visitor’s Center.

Bald Eagle #14-2406 has been flying well during the last few weeks and has greatly improved his stamina. On February 5, the bird reached optimal conditioning level — 15 passes in the flight enclosure, end-to-end. If the bird continues to fly 15 or more passes consistently during the next week of exercise, the staff will evaluate the bird for release.

Bald Eagle #14-2406 did well during his first full week of exercise. The eagle is currently flying an average of 10 times perch-to-perch in the A1 flight pen; the staff and students note that the bird has good height during flight, but needs more stamina.

Exercise will continue during the next couple of weeks. Once the eagle’s stamina is improved and the bird is able to make more passes in the flight enclosure, release will be considered.

During the past week, Bald Eagle #14-2406 has had a strong appetite and his puncture wounds are healing appropriately.

The eagle was observed flying well in A2, and on January 5 the rehabilitation staff moved eagle #14-2406 to the adjacent flight pen [A1] so the bird could begin individual daily exercise.

The rehabilitation staff began exercising the eagle on January 8. Rehabilitation extern Simon reported that the eagle made 12 passes end-to-end and showed strong stamina, but was erratic in flight – the bird flew into the protective netting and had difficulty landing on the perches. This behavior is not unusual for an eagle patient’s first day of exercise. Over time, the eagle should become more linear in his flight pattern and perch more readily.

During the next few weeks, the staff will continue to monitor the healing progress of the puncture wounds. The eagle needs to meet the minimum requirements for exercise [15 passes end-to-end for seven days] and be fully healed before the staff can assess the eagle for release.

On January 2, the veterinary team decided to move Bald Eagle #14-2406 to flight pen A2. Because the bird is consistently eating and his wounds have healed well, the team wanted to observe the bird in a larger space.

Two other Bald Eagles are currently housed in A2: non-releasable Bald Eagle #13-2076 and Bald Eagle #14-1040. Bald Eagle #13-2076 is still currently waiting for permits to be approved before he can be transferred to his home at Wildbunch Wildlife Refuge. Eagle #14-1040 is waiting for wing and tail feathers to fully grow in before the staff can make an assessment on the eagle. Right now, the bird is not flighted.

Each eagle is wearing protective wing “bumpers” to protect their wrists while in the flight pen. The eagles can be identified by the patterned duct tape: #14-2406 is wearing rainbow tie dye, #14-1040 is wearing a rainbow scalloped pattern, and #13-2076 is wearing blue Hawaiian bumpers.

Since admission, the wounds on Bald Eagle #14-2406 have healed well, but the bird initially refused to eat on his own. After three nights of not eating, the veterinary team decided to move the eagle to an outdoor C-pen to see if a larger enclosure would encourage the bird to eat. On December 26, Bald Eagle #14-2406 moved to C4 and was offered a variety of foods that night—fish, rat, chick, and mice. The staff checked on the bird the following day and found that the eagle did eat the rat and chick overnight.

The eagle continued to eat consistently during the next three nights. On December 31, the bird’s puncture wounds were nearly healed, and the sutures were removed. The veterinary staff will continue to monitor Bald Eagle #14-2406 during the following weeks.