Buddy the Bald Eagle

March 15, 2023
Cause of Admission/Condition
Beak injury
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On the morning of March 15, the veterinary team examined Buddy, the Center’s education Bald Eagle ambassador. Early in the week, the outreach staff had noticed dried blood around Buddy’s beak. At first, it seemed like he had food remnants stuck to the left side of his beak, which, while not entirely unusual for a bird of prey, was out of the ordinary for Buddy.

Buddy was brought into the Center’s hospital, where Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Karra found that a significant portion of the side of Buddy’s beak was broken. A large portion of keratin was missing from the left side of Buddy’s beak, down to the bone on both the side and tip of the beak. Dr. Karra cleaned and disinfected the area, then applied bone cement to protect the exposed bone.

Buddy’s injury appears traumatic, though staff aren’t sure what happened to cause this injury. They estimate that the injury likely happened on Sunday – a generally quiet day at the Center, with only the essential veterinary team and a front-desk coordinator staffing the Center, and a day on which Buddy is not fed. Buddy’s beak does have a predisposed weakness due to the lifelong deformity caused by a large pox lesion that he developed as a nestling.

Buddy is currently on a course of antibiotics and pain medications, and the staff will monitor Buddy’s beak carefully in the coming days. The veterinary team plan to examine his wound in a week. Dr. Karra is concerned about the risk of infection, due to the exposed bone, and also has concerns about Buddy’s quality of life if the beak’s keratin doesn’t adequately grow back.

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Your donation will help provide medical care for Buddy and approximately 4,000 other patients that the Wildlife Center will help this year.


Patient Updates

On July 20, the vet team brought Buddy inside the hospital to cope and recheck his beak. Dr. Karra reported that the injured portion of his beak has completely healed. Buddy’s beak is still not a normal shape or length and seems to have grown a little more crooked than it was before the injury, but Dr. Karra was able to help reshape the beak during coping.

Vet staff plan to recheck Buddy’s beak every six weeks during regularly scheduled beak trims. At this point, updates will no longer be posted on the website unless a concerning change is found.

On June 1, Dr. Karra and the veterinary team anesthetized Buddy to re-examine his beak. The team was pleased to find that his beak has continued to heal well – all of what was exposed bone is now covered in keratin, though there is one spot where the keratin seems thin. Dr. Karra applied a small amount of bone cement to protect that one thin layer and anticipates that the cement will fall off naturally as the beak continues the healing process.

At this point, Dr. Karra feels that Buddy’s beak has healed well enough to discontinue bi-weekly checkups.  Buddy’s beak is still not the "normal" shape and length it used to be, and it’s unclear how frequently it will need to be coped or if it is prone to re-injury. Outreach staff will continue to closely monitor the beak during daily training sessions, as will veterinary staff during regularly scheduled beak trims.

On May 10, Dr. Karra and LVT Jess brought Buddy into the hospital for another recheck of Buddy’s injured beak. Dr. Karra was pleased to find that the damaged beak continues to heal well and that the wound is almost completely granulated over the bone. Another layer of bone cement was reapplied to protect the beak since there were still some small exposed areas. Another recheck will be performed in 15-20 days, and likely no more bone cement will be needed at that point.

On April 24, the vet team brought Buddy inside the hospital to recheck his injured beak. Dr. Karra was happy to report that the wound continues to heal well and has formed more granulation tissue. She reapplied bone cement to cover the wound and plans to check it again in two weeks; based on how things look, she’s hopeful that it will be the last time she’ll need to bandage his beak.

On April 6, Dr. Karra and the vet team anesthetized Buddy to recheck his beak. After carefully removing the bone cement, Dr. Karra was happy to find that his wound is continuing to improve and has formed more healthy tissue. The healing process will still take quite some time, and how the damage to Buddy’s beak will ultimately impact him is unclear, but it is an encouraging sign to see continued improvement.

After the exam, Dr. Karra reapplied bone cement to Buddy’s beak and started him on anti-inflammatories to alleviate any pain caused by the examination of his wound. Her plan is to recheck Buddy’s beak again in two weeks. In the meantime, you can continue to watch Buddy on the Center’s Critter Cam #3!

On March 24, Dr. Karra and the veterinary team anesthetized Buddy the Bald Eagle to re-examine his injured beak. After removing the bone cement that was covering his wound, Dr. Karra was pleased to find that the tissue and bone appeared healthy and that there was granulation tissue forming around the edge of the wound. This type of tissue injury takes a very long time to heal; the long-term prognosis is still unknown, and the wound is still quite significant, but it’s encouraging to see healthy tissue forming.

After the exam, Dr. Karra placed a new layer of bone cement on top of the wound and is continuing Buddy on a course of antibiotics and pain medication. She plans to recheck the wound in two weeks.