Bald Eagle #15-1667 [YR73]

July 28, 2015
September 10, 2015
Rescue Location
Newport News, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Unable to fly
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On July 27, a park ranger in Newport News rescued an adult Bald Eagle found on the ground, wet and unable to fly. The ranger brought the eagle to a local emergency veterinary clinic, where staff took radiographs and stabilized the bird before transferring the eagle to a local wildlife rehabilitator with Wildlife Response, Inc.

On July 28, the Bald Eagle was transferred to the Wildlife Center for continued care and was admitted as patient #15-1667. An initial physical exam at the Center revealed no abnormal findings aside from dried blood and slight bruising on the right wing. Radiographs and blood work were unremarkable.

The eagle, likely a female, spent the first two nights in a cage indoors and had a poor appetite. Dr. Helen decided to move the eagle to an outdoor enclosure as soon as possible to assess the bird’s ability to fly and hopefully stimulate her appetite. Because there were no obvious injuries, observing the bird in a larger space would help the veterinary staff determine if there is an underlying problem [e.g. soft tissue injury or a neurologic issue] that is affecting her ability to fly.

On July 30, Bald Eagle #15-1667 was examined and given fluids [to support hydration] on the Critter Cam during the Center’s monthly online Hospital Cam event. The veterinary staff put bumpers on the eagle’s wings – to protect the bird from injury while in an enclosed space – and moved the bird to a large outdoor enclosure [A1] where staff can assess her ability to fly.

During the first days in the outdoor flight pen, the eagle has not consistently flown to either of the high perches, though she is able to hop up to the lower A-frame. The bird hops or walks rather than flies to move around the enclosure. If the eagle does not begin to fly in the coming days, then staff will further asses her for injuries or illness that could affect her mobility.

Staff will continue to monitor her activity and appetite in the outdoor enclosure.

The eagle is featured on the Critter Cam, along with roommate Bald Eagle #15-0642.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this Bald Eagle …and to the 2,600 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.

Patient Updates

Bald Eagle #15-1667 was successfully released on September 10 by veterinary director Dr. Dave McRuer. Office manager Elizabeth, rehabilitation extern Peter, and veterinary student Sebastian transported the eagle and captured photos of the release.

The eagle was released with a GPS transmitter, and the Center will be tracking the bird.

On Tuesday, September 8, Bald Eagle #15-1667 was banded for release. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries eagle biologist Jeff Cooper also came to fit the Bald Eagle with a GPS transmitter.

The eagle will be a part of an ongoing research study that will monitor eagle movements. This study looks at the data received from these tracked Bald Eagles to determine the range and behavior of Bald Eagles in Virginia’s coastal plain. Migratory behavior is studied as biologists are able to see how far Bald Eagles move in the winter season, and the data will play an important role in modeling how these birds use airspace. By looking at heights at which the eagles fly, average distances, and other specifics, biologists are able to relate this eagle behavior to real-life issues, such as airstrike data. During the past few years, VDGIF Biologist Jeff Cooper has fitted dozens of Bald Eagles with GPS transmitters.

For the Wildlife Center, this is a fantastic opportunity for additional post-release studies of our rehabilitated raptors. There have been very few studies done in this area. The Wildlife Center will be able to see and share GPS data; the bird will be added to the Eagle Tracking page on our website.

Because the bird is being released, and will no longer be a patient at the Wildlife Center’s hospital, the bird will be referred to in tracking updates as YR73. “YR” represents York River State Park, where the bird will be released. The numbers are the last two digits on the transmitter. Each transmitter has a five-digit number written on the side of it in permanent black marker so that the eagle can be identified at a distance.

Bald Eagle #15-1667 has been flying well during the past two weeks; the bird is able to maintain height, has good form, and good stamina. On Friday, September 4, the veterinary staff performed a pre-release examination and drew blood for analysis. Results came back within normal limits, and the bird was declared ready for release.

The Bald Eagle will be released at York River State Park on Thursday, September 10 at 11:30 a.m. The release is open to the public; attendees are asked to RSVP to Lacy at Those attending the release should plan to meet at the visitor’s center.

Bald Eagle #15-1667 has consistently been completing 15 passes perch-to-perch during daily flight conditioning sessions in A2. Since the eagle has been flying well during daily exercise, the rehabilitation team decided they will separate Bald Eagle #15-1667 from Bald Eagle #15-1348 and place the bird in a slightly longer flight pen [A1], after Bald Eagle #15-1250 is released. If the bird continues to fly well in the larger flight pen in the upcoming week, pre-release blood work will be scheduled.