Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU]

May 10, 2020
September 2, 2020
Rescue Location
Portsmouth, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On May 10, an adult female Bald Eagle was admitted to the Center after she was likely hit by a vehicle in Portsmouth, Virginia. The eagle was first taken to Nature’s Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation for stabilization; wildlife rehabilitator Dana Lusher noted that the eagle was banded with both a silver federal band and a purple state band used by the Center for Conservation Biology. Band reports from the "RU" band indicated that the bird hatched in 2016 in a nest in Virginia Beach. This eagle is the offspring of "ND", who was the 2010 offspring from the famous Norfolk Botanical Garden nest;  the Center has treated two other offspring of ND’s in the past [#16-1664 and #18-1139].

At admission, the eagle was bright, alert, responsive, and standing. Dr. Ernesto, the Center’s hospital director, found that the eagle had actively bleeding lacerations in both ears, an injury to the right eye, blood in her mouth, and an old wound on the leading edge of her left wing. The eagle was also having difficulty breathing. Radiographs confirmed signs of severe internal trauma.

The veterinary team treated the eagle with fluids and placed her in a quiet, dark location. The eagle’s prognosis is guarded due to the severity of the internal trauma, as well as the injury to the bird’s right eye.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured Bald Eagle … and more than 3,000 other wild patients that will be admitted in 2020. Thank you! 

Patient Updates

On September 2, Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] was released back to the wild in Portsmouth, Virginia. The release was not open to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photos by Barb Melton: 

Photos by Pam Monahan:

Eagle Release In the News: 

‘A miracle this bird is alive’: Rescued from I-264 interchange in May, bald eagle released in Portsmouth, The Virginian-Pilot

Bald Eagle #20-918 [RU] has been flying well during daily exercise sessions. On August 19, the rehabilitation team moved the eagle to flight pen A3 for additional observation — watch the eagle on Critter Cam!

The eagle’s third and final eye examination is scheduled for Monday, August 24th. If all is within normal limits, the team will begin to make release plans for the eagle.

Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] has been doing well during the past few weeks. The eagle is exercising daily now, and is able to fly about five to nine passes during each exercise session. The rehabilitation staff will gradually increase that daily goal to ensure that the bird is able to regain flight muscles and stamina.

The eagle had his second eye examination earlier in August; Dr. Karra was pleased to report that the eagle’s eye was within normal limits. The bird has one more eye examination scheduled later this month, just to ensure there are no long-term issues. As long as the eagle’s eye is normal, and the bird regains stamina, the bird should be able to be released back to the wild within the next month.

Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] has been doing well in the Center’s A1 flight pen during the past couple of weeks. While the eagle is not on a formal daily exercise program, the bird is housed with Bald Eagle #20-0994 who is being exercised regularly — so RU is slowly building flight muscles again.

Since RU was admitted with eye injuries, which can be a serious issue for diurnal raptors like eagles, the veterinary team has placed an "ocular hold" on the eagle. Ocular holds at the Center are typically about three months in length; during this period of time, the veterinarians perform three eye examinations just to ensure that any initial eye issue is not deteriorating. Even if improvements are noted soon after admission and treatment, some eye injuries may deteriorate slowly over time, compromising a bird’s vision. The next eye examination for RU will be on July 22, and the third will be in mid-August.

On May 29, Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] was moved to flight pen A1. In this larger space, she’ll be able to start a daily exercise program, to get her back in shape and ready for release.

Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] has been doing well in a small outdoor enclosure [C-pen] during the past week. The bird is readily eating on her own and has gained weight. In the next few days, the veterinary team anticipates that flight pen A1 will become available; the eagle will then be moved to this 100-foot space for assessment and flight conditioning.

Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] has been doing well at the Center during the past few days. The bird finished his course of medicated eyedrops on May 17, and an additional check of the injured left eye revealed that the vitreal hemorrhage — the bleeding in the space between the lens and the retina of the eye — had healed. The eagle hasn’t been eating consistently, though many eagles don’t eat as well on their own when they are confined to a crate in the Center’s holding room. The bird is bright and alert, and was moved to a small outdoor enclosure on May 19.

In the day following her admission, Bald Eagle #20-0918 [RU] was quiet but alert in her crate; Dr. Karra noted a small amount of blood around the bird’s glottis [part of the bird’s airway], indicating that the bird was still bleeding internally. The veterinary team continued offering the bird anti-inflammatories, medicated eyedrops, and fluids, while keeping the bird in a quiet location. On May 12, the eagle was a little brighter, and her respiratory rate was within normal limits.

The eagle has not eaten since being hospitalized, which is not surprising given the amount of internal trauma the bird suffered from the vehicle collision. If the eagle doesn’t eat what was offered overnight, the veterinary team will hand-feed the bird on May 13.