Bald Eagle #16-1474 [BI20]

July 7, 2016
August 20, 2016
Rescue Location
Richmond County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On July 6, an animal control officer in Richmond County, Virginia, found a mature Bald Eagle lying on the side of the road. The officer picked up the eagle and transported it to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator at Wildbunch Wildlife Refuge. The rehabilitator noted that the eagle was unable to stand, and often fell to the left when attempting to stand. The following day, the eagle was transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Upon admission, Dr. Peach, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the Bald Eagle. The eagle, likely a female, was having difficulty breathing and had a number of broken tail feathers. The bird did stand prior to capture. Blood was drawn for analysis, and radiographs were taken to check for internal injuries. Dr. Peach found an increased bone thickness on the left side of the eagle’s pelvis, indicating a possible fracture. The eagle also had an increased air opacity around her heart and liver, indicating an air sac rupture. The eagle was given fluids, anti-inflammatories, and pain medication and was placed in a crate in the Center’s holding room for cage rest.

Within two days, the bird was attempting to stand more regularly, though also intermittently lay down in a supportive "donut" in her enclosure. The eagle’s respiratory efforts improved, and a week after admission, the eagle was more active. On July 18, additional radiographs were taken to check on the bird’s suspected pelvic fracture; Dr. Dave, the Center’s veterinary director, noted that the eagle’s pelvic bone was thickened and smooth, indicating that the bone had been fractured, but had healed. The bird was moved to a small outdoor C-pen enclosure for additional observation in a larger space.

If the bird continues to do well, he will be moved to a larger flight pen enclosure soon to test her flight capabilities.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this injured eagle … and all of the patients admitted in 2016. Please help!

Patient Updates

Bald Eagle #16-1474 was successfully released at Belle Isle State Park on Saturday, August 20. Nearly 300 people attended the release, including the officer who rescued the Bald Eagle from the side of the road in July. With Dr. Ernesto looking on, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark released the eagle out over a field of soybeans. The eagle flew off strongly and headed for some trees about 150 yards away. The eagle flew over those trees, banked left, then turned right … and flew out of sight.

Since the bird is no longer a patient, but will be tracked through a GPS transmitter, the eagle will now be known at "BI20" — BI stands for Belle Isle, and the numbers are the last two digits of the transmitter number. Follow along with the bird’s travels here!

Bald Eagle #16-1474 has been flying very well in the A-1 flight pen during the past two weeks; the bird is able to maintain altitude, has strong stamina, and a general good quality of flight. Pre-release blood work was drawn on Thursday, August 11; results came back within normal limits. Dr. Dave also fitted the bird with a GPS transmitter, which will track the bird’s movements post-release. The eagle was returned to the flight pen for additional time to fly while wearing the 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.

On Monday morning, Dr. Dave assessed the bird’s flight again and declared the bird ready for release. The eagle will be released on Saturday, August 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Belle Isle State Park [1632 Belle Isle Rd., Lancaster, VA]. The release is open to the public; through the generosity of a Center supporter, there will be no park-admission fee for release attendees. When you arrive at the entrance to Belle Isle, please let park personnel know that you will be attending the release. If attending, please RSVP to

Bald Eagle #16-1474 has been showing signs of improvement and was moved to one of the Wildlife Center’s largest outdoor enclosures, flight pen A1, on July 25. Rehabilitation staff report that the bird is able to fly increasingly longer distances with daily exercise and maintains good altitude while moving between perches. The eagle’s pelvic bone, which Dr. Peach identified as fractured upon admission, has continued to heal and the bird is able to stand well on both legs.

Staff will continue to monitor the bird’s overall body condition and flight capabilities in the coming weeks.