Bald Eagle #18-3087

November 26, 2018
Rescue Location
Newport News, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Left-wing fracture
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On the morning of November 26, staff at Peninsula Memorial Park in Newport News reported seeing a Bald Eagle on the ground, unable to fly. Local permitted rehabilitators responded, and with the assistance of staff, located the bird in a wooded area of the memorial park. The eagle was quickly caught. A field exam revealed a broken left humerus with along with swelling in the left shoulder and mild dehydration. The bird’s wing was wrapped and a small amount of oral fluids were provided prior to the eagle being transported the Wildlife Center for further care.

On admission, the eagle was quiet but alert, and was very feisty when handled. Dr. Karra found an open left humeral fracture, with a moderate degree of swelling and subcutaneous emphysema. The bird was in fair body condition and didn’t appear to have any other trauma.

Radiographs confirmed a left humerus fracture along with swelling of the left shoulder but Dr. Karra suspected that injury was due to the fracture, and not a luxation of the shoulder. The wound associated with the fracture was cleaned and bandaged, and a body wrap was placed to stabilize the left wing. An emergency panel was found to be within normal limits, and the patient was noted to have subclinical levels of lead. The patient was treated with pain meds and set up in a crate in hold.

On November 29, Drs. Ernesto and Karra took the eagle to surgery to pin the bird’s fractured wing. The surgery went well and recovery was uneventful.

During the past week, the vet team has been checking the pin sites and bandage daily, and have also started the eagle on laser therapy treatments to promote healing. The eagle has been eating, though is fairly quiet. Post-op radiographs will be taken on December 6; if the vets are happy with the healing progress, they’ll start a regimen of physical therapy.

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Patient Updates

On December 29, veterinary staff noticed blood near Bald Eagle #18-3087’s previous fracture site. An in-depth physical exam was performed and an additional set of radiographs was taken, revealing that the eagle’s humerus was broken again. That same day, Dr. Ernesto and Dr. Karra attempted to surgically re-repair the bone, but found a significant portion of the bone had become necrotic.

In order for the bone to be considered healthy, a substantial portion would have been needed to be completely removed – leaving a shortened humerus and rendering the eagle non-releasable. As a result, the eagle was humanely euthanized.

Bald Eagle #18-3087 has been doing well in the Center’s indoor holding area during the past two weeks. Radiographs taken on December 17 showed the eagle’s fractured wing has continued to heal appropriately, and Dr. Kara began the process of gradually removing pieces of the external fixator.

After additional radiographs were taken on December 27, the last pieces were completely removed – including the pins that were inserted directly into the bone.

Patient wing radiograph

For now, the eagle will remain indoors and will have daily sessions of physical therapy and laser therapy. The veterinary team will closely monitor the incision site for any signs of swelling or discharge, clean the wound each day, and apply fresh bandages as needed.

Bald Eagle #18-3087 has been recovering well after surgery. On December 6, radiographs were taken to check on the healing progress of the eagle’s injured wing; the veterinary team found that the fracture was fairly well-aligned, with only mild displacement at the end of the fractured bone. The eagle started a course of physical therapy, as well as daily laser therapy. The bird has a limited range of motion in his injured wing, though by the end of each session, the veterinarians note an improvement in movement.

Additional radiographs will be taken during the week of December 17; if all goes well, the “dynamic destabilization” process will begin – slowly removing parts of the external fixator and pins that were put in place during surgery.