Bald Eagle #15-1922 [KG09]

August 29, 2015
November 4, 2015
Rescue Location
King George County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Lead poisoning
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On August 28, two people at the King George County landfill found a Bald Eagle stuck in the mud, laying face down. They removed the bird from the mud and waited to see if the eagle would recover and fly away; after several hours, the bird was still down on the ground and was taken to permitted rehabilitator Diana O’Connor. The eagle was stabilized overnight and was transported to the Wildlife Center the following day.

Dr. Dana, the Center’s veterinary intern, examined the eagle, likely a male, when he arrived. The bird was quiet and alert, and was standing in his crate. Dr. Dana performed a physical exam and found the bird to be in good body condition, with no broken bones. The only abnormality noted as a superficial corneal ulcer on the bird’s right eye. Radiographs had no significant findings, and blood was drawn for an emergency panel and lead test. Results from the lead test came back positive, at a level of 0.45 ppm.

The Bald Eagle was started on a five-day course of CaEDTA – a chelation therapy that essentially “scrubs” the lead from the bird’s blood. Dr. Dana gave the bird fluids and an anti-inflammatory; she also treated the corneal ulcer. The eagle was placed in the Center’s holding room. Another lead test will be performed on September 3.

In the news:

Rising up from the mud: Wildlife Center adds another patient, The News Virginian

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 #15-1922 was successfully released on November 4 at Caledon State Park in front of a crowd of about 70 people. President Ed Clark tossed the bird into the air; the bird took off with strong flight over everyone’s heads before turning around and flying to a tree line. The eagle perched on a limb for several minutes before taking off and disappearing out of sight.

Now no longer a Wildlife Center patient, this bird will be known as “KG09” for tracking purposes. Check the Bald Eagle Tracking page to see where this bird goes!

Photos by Thum Allen:


It was beautiful day at Caledon State Park, King George, Virginia. Trees showed off their colors, sky was blue. It was…

Posted by Thum Allen on Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Photos by Cheryl Kirk:

Eagle Release in the News

Rescued Eagle Returns To The Wild In King George, The Free Lance-Star

Due to rainy weather, Bald Eagle #15-1922 wasn’t fitted with a GPS transmitter this past week; instead Dr. Dave will place the backpack on the bird on Monday, November 2. The vet staff did perform pre-release blood work analysis on the eagle and declared the bird ready for release.

Wildlife Center president Ed Clark will release Bald Eagle #15-1922 on Wednesday, November 4 at 11:30 a.m. at Caledon State Park in King George County, Virginia. The release is free and open to the public; those attending are asked to RSVP to

For the past week, Bald Eagle #15-1922 has been flying very well in flight pen A1; the bird has great stamina and strong flight.

On Wednesday, October 28, veterinary director Dr. Dave McRuer will fit the eagle with a GPS transmitter. This year, Dr. Dave has assisted VDGIF biologist Jeff Cooper with fitting multiple eagles with GPS transmitters; at this point, Jeff is comfortable with Dr. Dave placing the transmitter on #15-1922 himself. 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.

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.

Dr. Dave will also band Bald Eagle #15-1922 on Wednesday. The eagle will return to flight pen A1 for additional exercise and flight condition while wearing the transmitter; if all goes well, the staff will begin planning the eagle’s release.

On October 16, Bald Eagle #15-1922 was transported to Virginia Tech for his eye exam. The veterinary ophthalmologist carefully checked both eyes and determined that the eagle’s retinas were normal and would not prevent the bird from being released. So far Bald Eagle #15-1922 has been exercising very well and is now flying at optimal level [15 passes end-to-end]. The rehabilitation staff will continue exercising the bird in the Center’s large A-pens and if the eagle continues to fly well, the eagle should be able to be released this fall.

On September 21, the Dr. Dana re-examined the corneal ulcer in Bald Eagle #15-1922’s right eye. While the veterinary team noticed the ulcer was smaller and observed no abnormalities in the bird’s fundus [the part of the eyeball opposite the pupil], there was some mild roughening to the cornea’s surface along with a small cataract present on the lens. The cataract may have been sustained during the bird’s initial head trauma, and was obscured by the corneal ulcer until recently. It is also possible the bird had developed the small cataract prior to his admission.

Since it is difficult to see to the back of the bird’s eye and determine if Bald Eagle has full vision in his eye, the veterinary team plans to take the eagle to one of the avian ophthalmologists at Virginia Tech in early October to evaluate the eye.

Bald Eagle #15-1922 is doing well during flight conditioning sessions and the rehabilitation staff will continue to exercise the bird in preparation for possible release.

Bald Eagle #15-1922 is doing well in the larger A2 flight pen. During the past week, the eagle has been flying well, reaching the higher perches, and consistently making approximately eight passes end-to-end during exercise sessions.

The Bald Eagle will need to reach the optimal level of exercise (15 passes end-to-end) for at least one week before the bird can be prepared for release.

On Monday September 21, the vet staff will perform an in-depth eye exam to determine the status of the corneal ulcer in the bird’s right eye.

On September 10, Dr. Dana approved Bald Eagle #15-1922 to be moved to a larger enclosure. Dr. Dana wants to observe the eagle in a larger space to see how the bird flies. Vet technician Leigh-Ann and vet technician extern Sarah moved the eagle to flight pen A1; he is now sharing this enclosure with Bald Eagle #15-1261.

Leigh-Ann reported that eagle #15-1922 flew the length of the enclosure and landed on a perch. If the eagle continues to fly well, he will be prepared for release n the coming weeks. Due to the eagle’s eye injuries and high lead levels, the staff will have to keep a close on eye on this bird’s progress in the larger pen. If the bird shows signs of difficulty flying, they will do repeat blood work to test for lead.

On September 3, the veterinary staff performed another lead test on Bald Eagle #15-1922. Results from the lead test came back at 0.100 ppm – a sub-clinical level, not requiring further treatment. The veterinary staff will do a final check of the eagle’s blood lead levels on September 9.

The staff also rechecked the corneal ulcer in the bird’s right eye. While the ulcer is static, its cloudy appearance obscures the view of the eye’s lateral posterior chamber - the narrow space behind the iris and in front of the lens. Without being able to see the lens, the veterinary staff cannot confirm that the eagle is visual in the eye, and the bird’s vision will have to be evaluated during flight conditioning.

Since Bald Eagle #15-1922 has been bright, alert, and very feisty in addition to his improved condition, it was cleared to move to a small outdoor enclosure [C-pen 4]. The eagle will be moved to a larger flight pen when one becomes available in order to assess his visual and flying abilities.