Bald Eagle #23-0413

Admitted
March 31, 2023
Released
October 16, 2023
Rescue Location
Isle of Wight County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Undetermined
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On March 31, an adult Bald Eagle was found grounded in Smithfield, Virginia. The eagle was rescued by permitted wildlife rehabilitator Dana Lusher, who discovered numerous wounds and transferred the bird to the Wildlife Center.

On admission, the eagle was alert and responsive. Dr. Karra, the Center’s Director of Veterinary Services, examined the eagle and found a large necrotic wound on its neck, a necrotic, maggot-infested wound on its right wing, several abrasions, and missing talons on both of its feet. Radiographs did not reveal any fractures, but a lead test came back with a positive reading of 0.07 ppm lead – a subclinical level, but still able to cause significant health issues.

The vet team cleaned the eagle’s wounds and started the bird on a course of anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, and chelation therapy to remove the lead. They then placed the eagle inside the Center’s indoor Holding room to rest and planned to debride the bird’s wing injury in the days following its admission.

On April 7, the vet team anesthetized the eagle to surgically debride the wound on its wing and grafted skin from the eagle’s left leg to help stabilize the injury. The surgery went smoothly, and afterward, the vet staff placed specialized bandages on the bird’s wounds to aid in the healing process.

By the following week, vet staff discovered that the skin graft was not healing well, and they also noted that the bird’s neck wound had become infected and would need to be debrided. On April 14, the team surgically debrided the eagle’s neck wound. While under anesthesia, staff closely examined the eagle’s skin graft – though the skin was dead, the wound underneath was healing well; staff made an incision to allow drainage but otherwise left the skin graft intact.

During the next month, the vet team added laser therapy and physical therapy to the eagle’s treatment plan to aid in the healing process. The eagle’s injuries responded well to the combined regimen of treatment, and at the end of the month, the eagle was moved to an outdoor C-pen to reduce stress as it continued to recover.

By late June, the eagle’s wounds had completely healed, though it did develop a mild case of pododermatitis on its right foot. Staff applied a liquid bandage to its foot to act as a protective barrier and added new perching options to the enclosure. On June 26, the eagle was moved to one of the Center’s largest flight pens to start exercise.

On July 1, the rehabilitation staff began exercising the eagle daily, starting at a regimen of up to five flight passes of the length of the enclosure; by July 24, the eagle had increased in stamina to 5-10 flight passes and the rehab staff noted that the bird’s flight was “much improved”.`Staff will continue to exercise the eagle to help it rebuild its flight strength and stamina. The eagle is currently housed in the A2 flight enclosure, along with Bald Eagle #22-3464.

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Patient Updates

On October 16, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark released Bald Eagle #23-0413 back to the wild at Chippokes State Park in Surry County. A crowd of about 60 people were in attendance.

Several Wildlife Center students and staff members were also able to attend the release, including Licensed Veterinary Technician Jenn. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., Jenn shared the following report via text message: "The eagle took a little bit of time to feel the wind under his wings before he decided to fly. Once he did, he flew symmetrically and beautifully, and successfully perched high up in a tree before taking off for good!"

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

Photos courtesy of Mallory Woody:

 

Bald Eagle release in the News: 

Rescued eagle returns to the wild in Surry

On October 9, veterinary staff performed pre-release bloodwork for Bald Eagle #23-0413; results were within normal limits, and the bird was cleared for release!

Bald Eagle #23-0413 will be released back into the wild on Monday, October 16 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern at Chippokes State Park [695 Chippokes Park Rd, Surry, VA 23883].

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 Chippokes State Park release [we hope to have several Bald Eagle releases this month] along with the number of people in your party.

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

Chippokes State Park
695 Chippokes Park Rd
Surry, VA 23883

From the park entrance, follow signs toward the visitor center.

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 three months, Bald Eagle #23-0413 has continued to do well in the Center’s outdoor flight pens. By mid-August, rehabilitation staff reported that the eagle was able to complete between 6-10 passes of the A2 enclosure during exercise sessions, but had poor stamina and was unable to sustain proper altitude while flying.

With continued exercise sessions, Bald Eagle #23-0413 showed further improvements during flight. On September 19, wildlife rehabilitator Mac shared a promising observation: “Flew the best I’ve ever seen – was at ceiling height for every pass. Maneuvered well. Limbs normal at all times. Stamina was good.” The next day, the eagle was transferred to the A3 flight pen for continued flight conditioning and observation.

During the coming days, veterinary staff will be carefully monitoring this patient’s overall status and readiness for release!