Bald Eagle #21-1979

June 17, 2021
Rescue Location
Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Lead toxicity
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On June 16, a fisherman found an immature Bald Eagle down in a stream in Spotsylvania County. The bird was flapping and apparently unable to fly; the fisherman called the Spotsylvania police department, and an officer responded to the scene and was able to capture the bird. The eagle was taken to a local veterinary clinic before it was transferred to a permitted at-home wildlife rehabilitator; the eagle was transported to the Wildlife Center on June 17.

Dr. Cam, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the eagle when it arrived and found that the bird was thin, but with no obvious wounds or fractures. A lead test revealed a subclinical lead level of 0.05 ppm. No other notable injuries were seen on the examination or on radiographs. Dr. Cam suspected that the bird had experienced neurologic symptoms as a result of the lead toxicity and was unable to care for itself, including finding food. Dr. Cam provided the bird with fluids, anti-inflammatories, and began a course of oral chelation therapy to treat the lead.

By the end of June, the bird was cleared to move to a small outdoor raptor enclosure for additional observation. A follow-up lead test indicated that lead had been removed through chelation therapy; no additional treatment was needed. In mid-August, the eagle was moved to flight pen A3, where it would have more room to fly and rebuild its flight muscles in preparation for release. The rehabilitation staff started the bird on a daily exercise regiment on August 21. They will continue to monitor the bird carefully during exercise, to ensure that the bird is regaining strength and stamina and has no long-term neurologic issues.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this debilitated Bald Eagle … and more than 3,500 other wild animals admitted this year. Thank you! 

Patient Updates

During the past two and a half weeks, Bald Eagle #21-1979 has been flying very well during daily exercise routines with the rehabilitation staff. By August 30, the bird was consistently flying the length of the A3 flight pen more than 15 times during each session. A blood sample drawn and analyzed by the veterinary staff confirmed that lead was no longer present in the eagle’s system, and it was determined that the bird was ready for release!

Bald Eagle #21-1979 will be released back to the wild on Friday, September 10 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern at Lake Anna State Park, Virginia [6800 Lawyers Rd]. The release is open to the public; please let us know if you’re coming by emailing Please indicate the number of people in your party. Those attending the release should plan on parking near Ware Cove picnic area, shelter B.

The Wildlife Center is following all CDC Guidelines and recommendations with regard to SARS-CoV-2. Current data suggest the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in outdoor settings is minimal. In general, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised. Please be respectful and physically distance with those outside of your party.

Bald Eagle #21-1979 was successfully released on September 10 at Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania Courthouse. The release was open to the public, drawing a crowd of about 60 children and adults. Park staff were able to attend, along with several members of the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office — including Deputy Stocking, who initially rescued the eagle in June.