Bald Eagle #20-3131

September 5, 2020
November 13, 2020
Rescue Location
Halifax County, Virginia
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On September 5, an immature Bald Eagle was found unable to fly in a horse pasture in Halifax County. The bird was admitted to Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center where it tested for slightly elevated levels of lead, and then transferred to the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Upon examination, Dr. Cameron was unable to find any significant injury to the bird, and confirmed that the lead level was "subclinical" at a level of 0.03 ppm. The eagle also had a slow heart rate, potentially indicating an additional toxicity, though it may have also been due to anesthesia that was administered earlier in the day at Southwest.

Dr. Cam administer a dose of atropine to stimulate the bird’s heart, and also began a course of oral chelation therapy to remove the lead from the eagle’s system. The staff will closely monitor the eagle this week to ensure that she is eating and that her heart rate is returning to a normal rate.

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Patient Updates

On November 13, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark released Bald Eagle #20-3131 at Staunton River Battlefield State Park, in Halifax County.

Ed reported that the bird did beautifully. The eagle flew a complete circle around the park’s visitor center, and then took off as if it knew exactly where it was going.

Bald Eagle #20-3131 has been flying well during the past couple of weeks; Critter Cam viewers have been able to see that the tiny transmitter that was placed on the eagle has remained in place!

The rehabilitation staff feel that the eagle is at its target exercise goal, indicating that the bird has regained its stamina and conditioning. The veterinary team will evaluate for release next week.

The Bald Eagles in A3 have been doing well the past couple of weeks and are exercised daily by the rehabilitation team. Before these birds are fully conditioned for release, they will be participating in some research with our state eagle biologist!

On Friday, October 16, state eagle biologist Jeff Cooper came to the Center to apply two small transmitters to the Bald Eagles in A3. These tiny transmitters are solar-powered and, if they function well, will be used to study the movements of eagles that live in close proximity to airfields in eastern Virginia. The overall goal of the project is preventing airstrike; if the transmitters work well, biologists will set up receivers around a particular airfield so that officials are alerted if an eagle wearing a transmitter is in close proximity. At this time, the transmitters are just in the trial phase, which is what our eagles will assist with. We’ll be monitoring the birds to ensure the transmitters stay on while the eagles continue to move, fly, preen, and bathe. The transmitters will be removed before these eagles are released.

Those watching the two birds on Critter Cam are encouraged to take screenshots and share in the moderated discussion — keeping an eye on the transmitters will be very helpful to the staff and Jeff Cooper! The devices are small black ovals, and each eagle has the transmitter clipped onto the top of its central tail feather. Feel free to take a screenshot and upload to the discussion!

Bald Eagle #20-3131 was moved to the Center’s A3 pen on September 25. The rehab staff hope to observe this bird’s flight, and build up her flight muscles in this large enclosure. The bird has been gaining weight since the move, and is still very eager to eat.

In the week following admission, Bald Eagle #20-3131 showed improvement in her mentation and was moved to a C-pen on September 11. The rehabilitation staff report that this bird is eating well; she often meets them at the door of the enclosure and is very eager for her food to be delivered. Dr. Karra hopes to be able to move the bird to a larger enclosure soon to see how the bird flies.