Bald Eaglet #21-1013

May 7, 2021
August 20, 2021
Rescue Location
Northumberland County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Fell from nest; lead toxicity
Former Patient

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

In early May, two young Bald Eaglets were admitted from Northumberland County after their nest fell from a tree. The birds were found two days apart, though fortunately, rescuers were able to quickly capture the birds as soon as they were found; the birds were each initially taken to Nature’s Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation before being transferred to the Wildlife Center. Bald Eaglet #21-0954 was admitted on May 5; its sibling was admitted as patient #21-1013 on May 7.

The eaglets' physical examinations and radiographs did not reveal any injuries sustained from the fall, but blood work confirmed that both had lead toxicity.  Bald Eaglet #21-0954 had an initial lead level of .22 ppm; eaglet #21-1013 had a lead level of .43 ppm. Lead toxicity is a significant issue for Bald Eagles and other raptors; it’s likely that the parents of the eaglets had fed the young birds either carrion or fish with trace amounts of lead ammunition or fishing tackle. Chelation therapy was started immediately for both birds, but sadly, Bald Eaglet #21-0954 died on May 10, likely due to lead toxicity.

Bald Eaglet #21-1013 finished its course of chelation therapy on May 11; a follow-up blood test on May 12 revealed a "low" level of lead, indicating that the chelation therapy was successfully able to remove the lead from the bird’s system. The bird has remained quiet and alert and appears to be recovering well.

Within the next few days, the staff will likely move the young bird to the tower of A3, one of the Center’s largest flight pens. In the tower area, the eaglet will be able to move around, perch, and explore. Special doors connect the tower to the main flight area of A3; when the eagle is old enough, the doors will be opened and the eaglet will be able to naturally "fledge" from this high area.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this young Bald Eagle … and more than 3,500 wild patients in need this year. Thank you! 

Patient Updates

Bald Eagle #21-1013 was successfully released today at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Due to the location of this release, the event was not open to the public. Refuge staff were able to attend, along with some other official personnel, and a photographer.

Photos by Barb Melton: 




Bald Eagle Release in the News:

Releasing eagle at refuge site, sacred to Rappahannock Tribe, special for many reasons, The Free Lance-Star


After a flight assessment from the rehabilitation staff and examination from the veterinary team, Bald Eagle #21-1013 has been cleared for release! The staff conferred with the state eagle biologist and decided to release the young bird at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which is just 20 miles west of where this bird hatched earlier this spring.

Due to the location and restrictions at the refuge, this release will not be open to the public. Stay tuned for updates on this eagle release!

Bald Eaglets #21-1320 and #21-1013 have been flying well during the past two weeks during their daily exercise. The rehabilitation staff report that the birds both have strong, even flight and are well-conditioned for release.

The staff will be working with the Department of Wildlife Resources and multiple biologists to plan releases for these two birds; it’s likely that they will be released separately, in or near their initial rescue locations. Stay tuned for updates; to receive notifications of any public releases, sign up for our email list!

Bald Eaglets #21-1013 and #21-#1320 have been doing well in the Center’s A3 flight enclosure during the past few weeks. The vet staff have been carefully monitoring the birds' feather growth to determine when the rehabilitation staff could safely start a daily exercise program. While the birds have been flying in the enclosure on their own, the rehabilitation staff wait to start strength-building exercise until all flight feathers are fully grown. On July 15, both birds were cleared to start their daily exercise, in preparation for release! As of July 22, the eagles are both flying about 10-15 passes in the enclosure during each session. If all continues to go well, the birds will likely be released later this summer.

Bald Eaglet #21-1013 currently weighs 3.04 kg; Bald Eaglet #21-1320 weighs 2.81 kg. The staff contacted state eagle biologist Jeff Cooper to see if he had any available GPS transmitters this season to fit onto the young birds prior to release; he does not have any available units.

Bald Eaglets #21-1013 and #21-1320 are both doing well in the Center’s A3 flight enclosure. In mid-June, the rehabilitation staff opened the doors of the raptor tower in A3, allowing both young birds full access to the main part of the enclosure. The young birds are free to practice flying in the large flight pen space and to interact with older eagles #21-0677 and #21-0214.

The young birds are regularly weighed to ensure that they are getting their fair share of fish and rat; both young birds are growing in their flight feathers. Once the feathers are fully developed, the rehabilitation staff will start a daily exercise program to condition both birds for release later this summer.

Bald Eaglet #21-1013 has been doing well in the tower of the A3 flight enclosure; the bird is eating a diet of rat and fish each day. On May 24, the eaglet was tested again for lead toxicity, and the veterinary team found that the bird’s lead levels were once again elevated at a level of 0.10 ppm. The eaglet started another course of oral chelation therapy.

On May 28, the eaglet gained a roommate — Bald Eaglet #21-1320. During the week of June 7, #21-1013 will have another blood draw to check for lead; at that point, the staff should be able to open the tower doors to allow both eaglets to fledge naturally into the main flight area of A3.