Bald Eaglet #23-0621

Admitted
April 15, 2023
Released
September 1, 2023
Rescue Location
Shenandoah County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Fell from nest
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On April 1, a Bald Eagle nest at Seven Bends State Park in Shenandoah County blew out of its tree. Eagle biologists monitored the situation and found that during the next week, the parent eagles continued to feed their offspring, but by April 8, the biologists suspected that the young eaglet was not using its wings properly. State eagle biologist Jeff Cooper decided to bring the young bird to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for further assessment.

Upon admission, the young bird was bright and alert and had a body condition score of 2.5/5. Dr. Marit, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, was able to feel a callus on the eagle’s right wing, near the bird’s elbow joint. The area felt stable and the bird’s range of motion was good. Radiographs confirmed an old, healing fracture on both the bird’s radius and ulna. While everything appeared well-aligned and healing, the proximity of the fractures to the bird’s joint concerned the staff. Joints on a young, growing bird are not yet completely ossified, making it difficult to tell if the bird’s joint is involved in the injury.

The staff gave fluids to the eaglet and observed the bird in a small indoor enclosure for several days; by April 19, the young eagle was moved to the outdoor A3 raptor tower area. In this location, the bird has room to stretch and flap its wings and can see – but not yet access – the larger eagle flight space below, where several other Bald Eagle patients are recovering.

The young eagle has been eating well and gaining weight, and staff have not noted any abnormal wing droop. An additional set of radiographs are scheduled for late May; the staff hope that they can better assess any potential joint involvement at that time. The prognosis for the eagle is guarded – if the joint is involved, then the eagle would likely need to be humanely euthanized due to the pain and arthritis this bird would experience for the rest of its life.

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Patient Updates

On September 1, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark released Bald Eagle #23-0621 back to the wild at Seven Bends State Park in Shenandoah County. A crowd of about 100 people were in attendance. The park was a beautiful release setting, right at the foot of Massanutten Mountain. Ed reported that when the eagle was tossed into the air, the young eaglet caught a thermal that was blowing through, and started circling over the crowd below. The eagle soared thousands of feet high, for about 20 minutes, before it flew out of sight.

Several attendees remarked on the memorable experience; attendee Richard Moore said "It’s one of the unique experiences to see that occur. I was astonished by how large the bird is and it’s one of those memories that will stick with me forever." DWR Conservation Police Officer Shaw was able to attend and said, "This was the icing on the cake — I started this job to help and protect wildlife, and to actually see an eagle be released at the very end of my career was one of the highlights of my career. It was really exciting to see him take off."

 

Bald Eagle Release in the News: 

Wildlife Center releases young eagle in Seven Bends, WMRA

To Fly Again, The Northern Virginia Daily

Bald Eagle #23-0621 is ready for release! Barring any abnormalities revealed during pre-release bloodwork scheduled for August 28, Bald Eagle #23-0621 will be released back to the wild on Friday, September 1 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern at Seven Bends State Park [2111 S Hollingsworth Rd, Woodstock, VA].

The release is free and open to the public. Visitor capacity at Seven Bends State Park is limited to 100 attendees during the event — please let us know if you’re coming by emailing RSVP@wildlifecenter.org.  Please indicate that you will be attending the Seven Bends release [we hope to have several Bald Eagle releases this month] along with the number of people in your party. Those attending the release should plan on parking near the park’s 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. 

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 Eaglet #23-0612 has been recovering well during the past few months. On May 25, veterinary staff removed the partition separating the A3 tower area from the full enclosure. In this larger space, the eagle will spend time recovering alongside Bald Eagles #22-3464 and #23-0710 [K62]. Repeat radiographs performed on June 6 showed that the eagle’s fractured radius and ulna are healing well and that the joint’s mobility appears healthy. The eaglet continues to eat well, and rehabilitation staff have increased the bird’s daily meal amount to accommodate its higher levels of activity.

For now, the bird will remain in the A3 flight pen under close observation. The rehabilitation team will continue to monitor the eagle’s carpal bumpers and ensure that its fractures are healing properly, and will consider beginning a flight conditioning and exercise regimen in the future.