Bald Eagle #20-3695

December 13, 2020
Rescue Location
Afton, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Lead poisoning
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On Sunday, December 13, a Bald Eagle was brought to the Center by a Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources officer after the bird was found in a field in Afton, Virginia. Dr. Sarah, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, did not find any significant external injuries, but found that the bird was dehydrated and had a very depressed mentation. This bird’s blood was tested for lead, which came back positive for very high lead levels. Radiographs did not show any lead fragments in the bird’s gastrointestinal system. Dr. Sarah started the eagle on a course of medication called chelation therapy to rid the bird’s system of lead.

Dr. Sarah estimates that this eagle is about three to four years old. Measurements of the eagle used to determine gender are not conclusive; the bird’s key measurements are in the middle of the spectrum where female and male parameters overlap.

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Patient Updates

Unfortunately, Bald Eagle 20-3695 was found deceased in its crate on the morning of December 23. The bird was nearing the end of its second round of lead treatment, and even though the eagle’s clinical signs had been improving, on the night of December 22, the eagle’s condition quickly declined. Dr. Cam placed the bird in an oxygen enclosure overnight, but unfortunately, the bird succumbed to the very high lead levels in its body.