On September 19, a Bald Eagle was brought to a wildlife rehabilitator in Northumberland County. The eagle was observed unable to fly and it took several days for rescuers to successfully capture the bird. The wildlife rehabilitator who initially admitted the bird reported that the eagle was very feisty and appeared to have a wing injury.
On September 20, the eagle was admitted as patient #13-2422. The intake exam – including a physical exam, x-rays, and blood work – was performed by veterinary intern Dr. Kristin Britton, veterinary student Sara, and diagnostic intern Kelli Waller.
During the initial exam –which took place in the Center’s treatment area – the bird was feisty, bright, and alert. Upon admission, the eagle was in good body condition and weighed in at 4.04 kg (8.9 lbs) but was dehydrated. No abnormalities were identified during the ocular exam and bloodwork was unremarkable.
A physical exam revealed some instability in the bony structure of the right shoulder. Upon examination of the bird’s mouth, there was blood in the glottis – the entrance to the larynx and trachea. Additionally, there were increased respiratory sounds when the bird inhaled. This, combined with the suspected shoulder injury, led Dr. Kristin to believe that the eagle suffered a traumatic injury.
Radiographs confirmed an injury to the right coracoid [See our library of radiographs for a diagram of an avian wing]. The radiograph below show the increased opacity(whiteness) of the soft tissue surrounding the right shoulder.
A bandage was applied to the bird’s right wing to stabilize the fracture, and it will be changed every three days. A tailguard and bumpers on the left wing were also applied to prevent damage to the eagle’s tail feathers and left wing while in a confined space. Fluids were administered to increase hydration, and pain medication and an anti-inflammatory were given for pain management. Selenium was also given to assist in the recovery of muscle tissue, and A&D ointment was applied to minor abrasions on the bird’s feet.
On September 23, Dr. Kristin noted that digit four of the eagle’s left foot appeared limp Radiographs performed on September 24 revealed no soft tissue injuries; Dr. Rich believes the flaccid toe is likely due to an old injury to the flexor tendon and should not affect the bird.
As of September 24, the eagle has gained weight and remains bright alert. Beginning September 27, the veterinary staff will perform physical therapy every three days on the bird’s right wing to maintain range of motion, flexibility, blood supply and to restore the natural motion of the limb.
They will continue to monitor the patient’s hydration, attitude, and appetite, as well as monitor the bird for further respiratory distress. The tailguard, bumpers, and right-wing bandage will be monitored daily to ensure they are intact.