Bald Eaglet #21-1320 [75-D]

August 21, 2021
August 17, 2021
Rescue Location
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Fell from nest; fractured keel
Former Patient

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On May 21, a fledgling Bald Eagle was admitted to the Wildlife Center from Virginia Beach. The bird reportedly fell 90 feet from its nest and was taken to permitted wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Barlow before it was transferred to the Wildlife Center. The bird was banded on one leg as 75-D.

Dr. Cam examined the male eaglet when he arrived; the bird was quiet but alert, and became more reactive when handled for the examination. There were no obvious external injuries, though Dr. Cam was able to palpate what he suspected was a keel fracture; the bone seemed more moveable than it should be. Radiographs confirmed that the eaglet had both keel and sternum fractures in multiple places, likely caused by the fall from the nest. No other injuries were noted.

Dr. Cam started the bird on a course of pain medications and anti-inflammatories and set the bird up in a crate in the Center’s holding room. These types of fractures are unable to be surgically repaired; the bird was placed on strict cage rest to allow an interrupted healing process.

A week after admission, additional radiographs were taken; the fractures appeared to be healing well. On May 28, the eaglet was moved to the tower of the A3 flight enclosure, where he was introduced to eaglet #21-1013.

The eaglet’s prognosis for release is guarded; keel fractures can heal well, and the surrounding pectoral muscles that develop for flight can attach to scar tissue and calluses that form around the fractures, but these fractures were particularly bad. The staff will need to closely assess the young bird’s flight abilities as he develops and starts to fly.

Your donation will provide veterinary medical care to this injured young bird … and more than 3,500 patients that the Center will admit in 2021. Thank you! 

Patient Updates

Bald Eagle #21-1320 was successfully released on Tuesday, August 17 at Berkeley Plantation in front of a crowd of about 100 people.

Photos from Barbara Melton: 





Photos from Scott Hemler:


Eagle Release in the News: 

Wildlife Center of Virginia releases recovered bald eagle, NBC-12

Recovered bald eagle released to the wild in Charles City after falling 90 feet from nest, WRIC 

After a flight assessment from the rehabilitation staff and examination from the veterinary team, Bald Eagle #21-1320 [75-D] has been cleared for release! The staff conferred with several biologists to determine where to release this young eagle; the bird hatched in Virginia Beach, though biologists agreed that the urban landscape may not be the best option for the young eagle. Since hatch-year birds are not territorial and often spend their first few years of life exploring, other habitats were assessed.

Wildlife Center President Ed Clark will release the eagle at Berkeley Plantation at Taps Field on Tuesday, August 17 at 11:00 a.m. The release is open to the public; please let us know if you’re coming by emailing Please indicate that you will be attending the Berkeley Plantation release [we are hosting 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 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 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.