Bald Eagle #19-3193

November 7, 2019
January 1, 2020
Rescue Location
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Suspect trauma
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On November 7, an adult Bald Eagle was rescued after it was found down in the ground in Pittsylvania County. The eagle as taken to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke, where it was stabilized before it was sent to the Wildlife Center of Virginia the following day.

Dr. Claire, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the Bald Eagle. The eagle was quiet, but standing and alert and attempted to avoid restraint. No fractures were noted, though after taking radiographs, Dr. Claire was able to see that the eagle’s heart was abnormally enlarged; the eagle did have some abnormal heartbeats after it was under anesthesia for the examination and diagnostics. A lead test revealed a subclinical level of 0.15 ppm.

Dr. Claire gave the eagle fluids, anti-inflammatories, and started an oral chelation therapy to treat the eagle for the low levels of lead. Dr. Claire reported, “The cause of the enlarged heart is unknown, but may be due to trauma (such as being hit by a vehicle) or toxicosis (organophosphates). Another potential differential for clinical signs is another toxicosis such as barbiturates from feeding on previously euthanized animals or other heavy metal toxicosis. Due to the severity of the cardiac abnormalities, the eagle patient has a guarded to poor prognosis.”

The veterinary team added a course of atropine, a medication to treat the eagle’s irregular heartbeat, and continued to offer supportive care during the days following admission. On November 10, the veterinary team ran another lead test; results were 0.038 ppm. Since the levels were decreasing the team decided to continue with the oral chelation therapy.

Within a week, the eagle’s condition improved. On November 19, the eagle was moved to a small outdoor enclosure for additional observation.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this Bald Eagle. Thank you!

Patient Updates

Bald Eagle #19-3193 is ready for release! After additional exercise and pre-release blood work, the veterinary and rehabilitation staff declared that this eagle was ready to be returned to the wild. At this point, the state eagle biologist does not have any available transmitters, so the eagle will be released without one on Wednesday, January 1 at 1:00 p.m. at Leesville Campground near Gretna, VA.

Wildlife Center President Ed Clark will release the eagle; the release is free and open to the public. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to The address for the Leesville Lake Campground is 3129 Gallows Road, Gretna, VA 24557. Release participants are asked to meet near the campground office.

Bald Eagle #19-3193 has been flying well in the A1 flight enclosure; the rehabilitation staff report that the eagle flies an average of 10-15 passes during each daily exercise session. The eagle has been demonstrating that it can maintain height and gain lift; the bird needs to increase its stamina before release is considered.

Bald Eagle #19-3193 did well in the Center’s outdoor C-pen in the weeks following its admission; the bird was perching normally, was bright and alert, and was eating well on its own. On December 5, the rehabilitation team moved the eagle to the A1 flight pen, so that they could see the bird maneuver in a larger space. Two days later, the eagle started on a daily exercise program. So far, the eagle appears to fly the length of the flight pen about eight to 10 times without significant issues.

Bald Eagle #19-3193 was successfully released on January 1 at Leesville Campground near Gretna, VA. There were nearly 100 people in attendance; the eagle flew off toward the treeline and perched high in a nearby tree.

Photos Courtesy of Leesville Lake Campground: 

Bald Eagle Release in the News: 

Bald eagle found unresponsive in Pittsylvania Co. released back into the wild [video], WSET

Bald eagle returned to Pittsylvania County after recovering from lead poisoning [video], WDBJ

Eagle saved by Chatham farmer, released back into the wild [video], WSLS