Bald Eagle #23-0710 [K62]

Admitted
April 20, 2023
Released
September 5, 2023
Rescue Location
Northampton County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Found grounded, unable to fly
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On April 19, a young Bald Eagle was found grounded on the beach in Cape Charles, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The eagle had recently been eating a rotting beached whale and was quiet and unable to fly when she was found. Wildlife rehabilitator Jodie Sokel was able to capture the bird and provided supportive care until the eagle was transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia the following day.

The person who found the eagle, Marina, is a wildlife photographer and had been following the young bird for a week. Thanks to Marina’s zoom lens and photography skills, she was able to see that the bird had a green leg band [K62]. Social media connections put Marina in touch with the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Florida; the center treated and released the hatch-year bird on March 25, 2023, in Pasco County [north of Tampa]. Marina first saw the young eagle in Virginia on April 10.

Photos of the young Bald Eagle, courtesy of Marina Pierce: 

Dr. Marit, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the Bald Eagle at admission on April 20. The eagle was bright and alert, but very thin, with a body condition score of 1.5/5. No fractures or significant injuries were found on examination, and radiographs were within normal limits. A blood lead test revealed a lead level of 0.101 ppm; while this amount of lead is considered “subclinical”, no level of lead is safe to have in the body. Dr. Marit and team gave fluids to the young eagle and started the bird on a course of antifungals and oral chelation therapy to remove the lead from the bird’s system.

On April 23, the Bald Eagle was moved to a small outdoor enclosure. Once the course of oral chelation therapy is complete and another lead test is performed [scheduled for April 26], the eagle will likely be moved to a larger space with other Bald Eagle patients. The team will continue to monitor the bird’s appetite closely to ensure the bird is eating well and gaining weight. At this point, there is no singular apparent cause of admission. The young bird may have had difficulty finding adequate food; the lead levels and potential GI upset from eating the rotting whale may also have contributed to the eaglet’s deteriorating condition at the time of rescue.

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Patient Updates

On September 5, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark released Bald Eagle #23-0710 [K62] back into the wild at the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia. A crowd of about 80 people attended the release, including Marina Pierce, the wildlife photographer who originally found the downed bird. Linda, one of the Center’s supporters, reports that the eagle "came out of the crate feisty and ready to be released!! She flew fast [toward the James River] then banked to the left and disappeared behind the trees."

Getting ready for transport to the release site:

Release photos courtesy of Linda Vetter:

Bald Eagle Release in the News: 

Bald eagle released, soars free in the sky after months of treatment at Wildlife Center of Virginia, WRIC ABC8 News

Bald Eagle Banded at Audubon Center for Birds of Prey Spotted in Virginia,  Audubon Florida

Bald Eagle #23-0710 is ready for release! Barring any abnormalities revealed during pre-release bloodwork scheduled for August 28, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark will release the eagle at Taps Field, Berkeley Plantation on Tuesday, September 5 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

The release is free and open to the public; please let us know if you’re coming by emailing RSVP@wildlifecenter.org. Please indicate that you will be attending the Berkeley Plantation release [we hope to have several Bald Eagle releases this month] along with the number of people in your party.

Please visit the Berkeley Plantation website for general directions. Alternatively, use Google/MapQuest to obtain the best directions from your location to the Berkeley address:

12602 Harrison Landing Road
Charles City, Virginia 23030

There is a directional sign at the front of Berkeley Plantation’s driveway. Rather than taking a slight right onto Harrison Landing (which leads to the main Berkeley Plantation mansion), bear left toward Westover Plantation. Take an immediate right onto a gravel driveway [if you pass the sign that notes that Westover Plantation is two miles ahead, you have missed the turn to Berkeley].

Follow the gravel road straight back for 1.1 miles. The parking lot will be on your right.

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. 

Bald Eaglets #23-0621 [Seven Bends State Park], #23-0710 [K62], and #23-1713 [Dulles Greenway] have all been steadily regaining their physical strength and stamina during the past two weeks.

Rehabilitation staff report that each bird has made notable progress during daily flight conditioning regimens; Bald Eaglet #23-0621’s [Seven Bends State Park] stamina has improved compared to the past week, and the bird is able to complete between 10-12 passes of the A3 flight pen each day. #23-0710 [K62] is “flying beautifully”, according to Rehabilitation Team Lead Mac, flying between 10-13 passes of the enclosure. #23-1713 [Dulles Greenway] is able to complete between 10-12 passes of the flight pen each day, but is often reluctant to exercise and is observed flying at a lower altitude compared to the other eaglets.

For now, these eagles will remain in the A3 flight pen under close observation as the veterinary and rehabilitation teams evaluate their possible release back into the wild during the coming weeks. Barring any major medical or rehabilitative issues, staff predict their releases may be achievable before the end of August.”

Bald Eaglets #23-0612 [Seven Bends State Park], #23-0710 [K62], and #23-1713 [Dulles Greenway] have all been doing well in the Center’s A3 flight enclosure.

While the young eaglets have been flying and building their flight muscles in this large space for several weeks, during the past few days, the rehabilitation staff started a formal exercise program for the young birds. Each day, the staff encourage the birds to fly from one end of the flight pen to the other, and they carefully monitor the bird’s stamina, lift, and maneuverability.

Exercise will continue during the next few weeks; if all goes well, the eaglets should be ready for release later this summer.

Bald Eagle #23-0710 [K62] has been doing well in the Center’s A3 flight pen during the past three weeks. While the bird has not yet begun a flight conditioning regimen, rehabilitation staff report that she is steadily regaining a proper body condition score, displaying appropriate behaviors, and eating well. On July 3, she weighed in at 3.87 kg. Bald Eaglet #23-0710 is currently housed with two other recovering eagle patients within the A3 flight pen, Bald Eaglet #23-0621 and Bald Eagle #23-1713.

Competition for limited food resources between wild eagles, especially young adults, can be fierce — to mitigate possible food aggression in a rehabilitative setting, staff place portions of the eagles’ daily meals in several locations throughout the flight pen each day. For now, Bald Eagle #23-0710 will remain in the A3 flight pen. In addition to changing her protective carpal bumpers every four weeks and in-depth foot and feather checks with the veterinary staff every other week, rehabilitation staff expect to begin flight conditioning during mid-July.

On May 10, Bald Eagle #23-0710 was moved to the Center’s A3 flight pen, a large flight enclosure designed for eagles and other large birds of prey. The rehabilitation staff report that the bird is eating well and putting on weight; as of May 22, the eagle weighed in at 3.78 kg (a solid increase from her admission weight of 2.94 kg). The bird is flying well in the large flight space and has multiple other eagle roommates, including a hatch-year bird who is currently enclosed in the lofted tower of A3. This space connects to and overlooks the main flight space, and Bald Eagle #23-0710 often perches next to the tower area near the young eaglet.

During the past week, Bald Eagle #23-0710 has been showing some signs of recovery. Additional testing for lead toxicosis on April 26 showed that oral chelation therapy was successful in removing the remaining lead from the bird’s system, and the rehabilitation staff report that the bird is regularly consuming 100% of the fish and rat offered each day. While the eagle’s body condition score remains low, the bird weighed in at 3.6 kg on May 1, compared to 2.94 kg on admission. During the coming days, Bald Eagle #23-0710 will remain in a small outdoor enclosure under close observation by veterinary and rehabilitation staff.