Bald Eagle #22-3464

Admitted
October 27, 2022
Released
October 18, 2023
Rescue Location
Chesapeake City, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Vehicle collision / lead toxicosis
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On October 27, an adult Bald Eagle was found injured on the side of the road in Chesapeake, Virginia. The eagle was likely injured due to a vehicle collision. Chesapeake Animal Services captured the bird and brought her to permitted wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Barlow for initial treatment before transporting her to the Wildlife Center for further care.

On admission, the eagle was bright and alert. Dr. Marit, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the bird and found a corneal ulcer in her left eye and a large necrotic wound near the elbow on its left wing. Radiographs did not show any fractures, but bloodwork revealed that the eagle had 0.184ppm lead in its system, a subclinical level of lead toxicosis. It’s possible that the eagle’s lead toxicosis caused her to become uncoordinated, predisposing her to being hit by a vehicle.

Dr. Marit cleaned and bandaged the wound on the eagle’s wing and started her on a course of antibiotics to combat infection and anti-inflammatory medication to relieve swelling and reduce pain. She also started chelation therapy to remove the lead from the bird’s system. After the exam, the eagle was placed in the Center’s indoor Hold where she could be easily accessed for treatment and closely monitored.

The following day, the veterinary team anesthetized the eagle to surgically remove the dead tissue from the wound on her left wing. The surgery went well, and after, a specialized bandage was placed over the wound to aid in the healing process.

Despite being on two types of antibiotics, the wound on the eagle’s left wing quickly became infected. On October 31, staff had to perform a second surgery to debride more necrotic tissue, allowing the healthy underlying tissue a better chance to heal. Before suturing the wound, the vet team placed antibiotic beads into the wound to deliver a high concentration of antibiotics to the area and stave off infection. The eagle had also not been eating well, so staff began gavaging the bird to ensure she was getting the proper nutrition during recovery.

On the morning of November 2, the eagle was found laying on her side and was very dull. Center staff quickly moved the bird to an oxygen therapy cage and placed a catheter to administer IV fluids. The eagle’s condition slowly improved, and by the end of the week, the bird was able to move off oxygen support and back into a crate in Hold.

During the next two weeks, the eagle’s wound started to heal, though there is still some necrotic tissue in the wound. A lead test revealed that chelation therapy has successfully removed the lead from the bird’s system. On November 19, the vet team moved the bird to Metals, an outdoor holding area. Though the eagle is still being confined to a crate while in Metals, this location will start acclimating the bird to being outdoors again and help reduce the stress of captivity.

For now, the eagle will remain in Metals where the vet team will continue to treat the wound on her wing; the eagle’s prognosis remains guarded.

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Patient Updates

On October 18, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark released Bald Eagle #22-3464 back to the wild at Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake, VA. A crowd of about 130 people were in attendance, including the Animal Control Officers involved with the eagle’s initial rescue, the 2023 Annual Gala & Benefit Auction’s winning bidder for the Eagle Release Sponsorship package, and several Wildlife Center staff and students.

As Outreach Communications Coordinator Lauren describes, when the eagle was released, it "flew confidently into the sky and stuck around for a while, circling above the trees".

  

 

Photo courtesy of Ann Rivenbark

Stay tuned for updates during the coming days that feature photos, videos, quotes from release attendees, and news media coverage of the release!

On September 20, Bald Eagle #22-3464 was transitioned to the Center’s A3 flight pen. At 96’ long and 23’ tall at its highest point, this enclosure is well-suited to house larger raptors during their final stages of flight conditioning. During daily exercise sessions, rehabilitation staff have reported that the bird is able to complete between 11-18 passes of the enclosure, maintain proper altitude, perch well, and has shown significant improvements in strength and stamina.

On October 9, veterinary staff performed pre-release bloodwork; results were within normal limits, and following nearly 12 months of intensive veterinary and rehabilitative care at the Center, Bald Eagle #22-3464 was cleared for release!

Bald Eagle #22-3464 will be released back into the wild on Wednesday, October 18 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern at Oak Grove Lake Park [409 Byron St, Chesapeake, VA 23320].

The release is free and open to the public. Please let us know if you plan to attend by emailing RSVP@wildlifecenter.org. Make sure to indicate that you will be attending the Oak Grove Lake Park release [we hope to have several Bald Eagle releases this month] along with the number of people in your party.

Please visit the Oak Grove Lake Park website for general directions. Alternatively, use Google/MapQuest to obtain the best directions from your location to the park’s address:

Oak Grove Lake Park
409 Byron St
Chesapeake, VA 23320

From the Oak Grove Lake parking area, follow signs toward Small Shelter #1.

The release will take place rain or shine. If storms [with lightning] threaten the release plans, we’ll post an update here and will email those who have sent their RSVP.

During the past two weeks, Bald Eagle #22-3464’s flight has continued to improve. The eagle is now able to complete 12-16 flight passes in its enclosure and maintains an adequate height for the duration of the exercise session. Staff have not observed a wing droop during exercise sessions, though the eagle does become physically exhausted more quickly than the other eagles in its enclosure. The rehab team plans to continue flight conditioning for another two weeks, at which point staff will begin to assess if the bird is ready for release.

Bald Eagle #22-3464 has remained in the A2 flight pen during the past four weeks, slowly regaining her physical strength during regular flight conditioning and exercise. On August 29, rehabilitation staff reported that the eagle’s stamina during flight had definitively improved and that the bird was able to complete between 8-11 passes of the enclosure while maintaining better altitude. A wing droop was occasionally noted near the end of the eagle’s exercise regimen, but Rehabilitation Team Lead McKenzie suspects this to be a result of physical exhaustion rather than injury.

On August 30, staff determined that Bald Eagle #22-3464 was ready for the next phase of her flight conditioning. During the past week, the eagle’s exercise routine has been increased to 10-15 passes of the A2 flight pen. Once the bird is able to complete this daily regimen with consistency and good form, staff may begin to consider the possibility of her release.

Tune in to Critter Cam 1 during the coming days for a chance to see this eagle live on camera!

During the past month, Bald Eagle #22-3464 has continued to recover in the A2 enclosure. The rehab team has been maintaining the bird’s physical therapy regimen every other day, and after a physical therapy session last week, the eagle flew nearly all the way across the enclosure. As a result of this improvement, on August 8 the veterinary team approved an exercise regimen for the eagle in addition to its ongoing physical therapy sessions. The following day, rehab staff reported that the eagle had flown several full passes at above five feet while the team tried to catch it for physical therapy—and then flew several more passes after the therapy session was completed. The rehab team will continue to evaluate the bird’s flight strength and stamina during daily exercise sessions.

For the past month two months, Bald Eagle #22-3464 has continued to recover in the Center’s A3 flight pen, eating well and gaining weight. The veterinary and rehab team have been regularly checking the eagle’s left wing flight feathers and monitoring the bandaging on the bird’s carpal bumpers daily to make sure they are clean, dry, and intact. On June 21, the veterinary team prescribed a daily dose anti-inflammatory and began physical therapy regimen every other day with the bird, focusing on range of motion of the eagle’s left wing to help the bird regain flight capability. These measures yielded significant improvement in range of motion, and by July 11, rehab staff were pleased to find that the eagle’s left wing had regained full range of motion and had increased flexibility in the elbow. At this point, the eagle can glide from one end of the enclosure to the other and land safely on an A-frame perch, though it will need to work to build flight muscles and stamina.

On July 9, the eagle was moved to the A2 enclosure, which means it can now be featured on the Center’s Critter Cams. 

During the past couple of months, Bald Eagle #22-3464 has continued to slowly heal in the Center’s A3 flight enclosure. The bird’s left elbow wound, noted at her admission in October, has proven quite challenging to treat, but slowly and steadily, the veterinary team has seen improvement during regular treatments and checks. By May 10, the elbow wound finally appeared that it has healed; a thick, secure scab was present, and the veterinary team finally was able to stop bandaging the bird’s wing.

The eagle is living in the main portion of the A3 flight enclosure with several other Bald Eagles and will spend the next few months regrowing flight feathers and building strength in the atrophied muscle of her left wing.

During the past three weeks, Bald Eagle #22-3464’s condition has remained stable, and the veterinary team determined that the eagle – thought to be female – was ready to transition from Metals to a larger outdoor enclosure. On March 24, she was moved to the partitioned raptor tower area of flight pen A3, adjacent to Bald Eagle #23-0147. In this outdoor space, veterinary staff will continue to perform bandage changes and check the wound on the eagle’s left elbow each day. When the wound has healed more completely and the bandages can be removed, staff will assess her readiness to access the entirety of the A3 flight pen.

Bald Eagle #22-3464 has spent the past month acclimating in Metals, one of the Center’s outdoor holding areas. While the wound on the eagle’s left wing has shown mild improvement, continued treatment is still required. On February 17, Dr. Marit cleaned and surgically debrided the area until healthy, bleeding edges were exposed, and medical honey and bandages were applied to promote healing. After recovering from the procedure without incident, the eagle was transitioned back to Metals where it has been receiving daily bandage changes and gentle physical therapy to ensure range-of-motion is not lost. Rehabilitation staff report that the eagle is eating relatively well, and has increased in weight during the past month – on February 23, the eagle weighed in at 4.69 kg. For now, Bald Eagle #22-3464 will remain in Metals under close observation.

During the past two months, Bald Eagle #22-3464 has remained in Metals while receiving medical and rehabilitative care. On November 22, veterinary intern Dr. Olivia performed an additional surgery to further debride the wound on the eagle’s left wing. After removing dead and necrotic tissue from the injury site, Dr. Olivia was pleased to see healthy, bleeding tissue exposed. The area was flushed with a diluted iodine solution, and antibiotics were applied directly onto the exposed tissue before the veterinary team sutured the wound. Following the procedure, the eagle was placed in the Center’s indoor Hold area for a period of recovery before being transitioned outdoors again.

While in Hold, veterinary staff began a daily physical therapy regimen on the eagle’s wing through gentle range-of-motion exercises. During this time a repeat ophthalmological exam was performed on the bird’s left eye, showing improvements in the corneal ulcer that was noted on admission.

Unfortunately, the wound on the eagle’s left wing has proved difficult for the veterinary staff to fully resolve. Additional surgeries to debride, clean, and close the affected area were performed on December 23 and January 5. For now, the eagle will remain in Metals where Center staff will administer pain medications and anti-inflammatories, perform daily bandage changes, clean and flush its wound as needed, and closely observe the eagle’s overall status.