Bald Eagle #15-0355

Admission Date: 
April 19, 2015
Location of Rescue: 
Alexandria, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Found on the side of the road
Placed as educational animal
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On April 18, an adult female Bald Eagle was found on the banks of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. A private citizen noticed that the eagle was injured and called Animal Control of Fairfax County. An officer quickly responded to the scene and transported the eagle to a local animal clinic where the staff cleaned the eagle’s wounds, administered fluids, and provided pain medication. The eagle was transported and admitted to the Wildlife Center as patient #15-0355 on April 19.

Veterinary intern Dr. Meghan Feeney performed the eagle’s initial exam. Upon admission, the eagle was standing but had a marked left wing droop and was lame in the right leg. Further examination revealed that the eagle was dehydrated and had a fractured left ulna (wing) with some soft tissue swelling. On the bird’s right leg, there was an abrasion and bruising, and both feet presented with mild abrasions.

Radiographs confirmed that the right tibiotarsus (leg) was also fractured. The vet staff cleaned the eagle’s wounds, splinted the fractured leg, and applied a bandage and body wrap to the left wing.

On April 20, further radiographs were performed to determine the severity of the ulnar fracture. If minimally displaced (if the bones are not severely misaligned) the fracture could be managed conservatively with bandaging; otherwise, the eagle would require surgery to repair the fracture. Radiographs showed that the fracture is minimally displaced and the veterinary staff will likely move forward with a conservative plan for treatment.

At this time, the veterinary staff plans to manage the bird with a left-wing bandage and a right-leg splint. Radiographs will be taken the first week of May to determine how well the eagle is healing.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this Bald Eagle … and all of the patients admitted in 2015. Please help!


July 18, 2017

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service permits were approved for Bald Eagle #15-0355 and transportation arrangements are underway to drive the eagle to her new home in New York. A veterinary extern student will drive the bird partway to Pennsylvania on July 24, where she'll meet up with the director of Wild Spirit Education.

February 21, 2017

Within the past month, the Wildlife Center received clearance to place non-releasable Bald Eagle #16-0355 at an educational facility. Wild Spirit Education, Inc., located in New York, expressed an interest in working with this Bald Eagle. USFWS paperwork was started for the transfer, and when approval comes through, the bird will be transferred to her new home.

March 30, 2016

During the past six weeks, Bald Eagle #15-0355 has been exercised daily in one of the Center’s flight enclosures. Despite many months of exercise and rehabilitation, the eagle has not made significant improvements in stamina or quality of flight. Given the eagle’s medical and rehabilitation history, the veterinary team decided to deem this eagle non-releasable. Center staff will begin the process of looking for placement for this Bald Eagle.

February 17, 2016

During the last two weeks of January, the rehabilitation staff continued to exercise Bald Eagle #15-0355 and administered daily anti-inflammatories to see if the pain-reliever would treat the bird’s left wing droop. The bird continued to make at least 15 passes end-to-end, but was very flappy and appeared to be exerting considerable effort to gain height while flying. The staff also monitored the eagle through the Center’s Critter Cams and noticed that the bird consistently had a mild to moderate wing droop and would intermittently hold her wing out from her body while perching.

On February 4, Bald Eagle #15-0355 was anesthetized for radiographs, which were within normal limits. Since the eagle’s wing droop hadn’t improved with anti-inflammatories, the veterinary staff decided to discontinue the medication and push the eagle during daily exercise. The wing droop may improve with time, but may also be a long-term side effect of the eagle’s healed injuries.

The eagle remained on daily exercise sessions for the next two weeks, with mediocre stamina and quality of flight. After additional radiographs were taken on February 16 returned with no change in condition or abnormalities, the Center staff decided to continue Bald Eagle #15-0355 on daily exercise for one month. Next month, they will re-evaluate the bird’s condition and determine if the eagle has made any improvements; the staff would like to see the eagle flapping less and gliding more, and would also like to see the eagle’s stamina increase.

January 29, 2016

During the week of January 11, Bald Eagle #15-0355 was cage-rested and monitored. The veterinary team was able to keep an eye on the eagle through one of the Wildlife Center’s webcams; the staff continued to note the eagle’s left wing droop.

On January 18, the eagle began daily exercise again. While the bird is able to fly in the enclosure, maintaining adequate height, the left wing droop persists. On January 24, the veterinary team decided to start the eagle on a short course of anti-inflammatories, to see if the pain-relieving properties might alleviate the wing droop. So far, the wing droop is still present, though the eagle is flying fairly well.

January 13, 2016

Bald Eagle #15-0355 was exercising well last week, although the bird was not able to attain the optimum level of exercise to be considered for release. Mid-week, the bird’s flight became a little more labored; the veterinary staff adjusted the size of the protective carpal bumpers on the eagle's "wrists" to see if smaller bumpers would make the bird more comfortable. Toward the end of the week, the eagle displayed an intermittent left wing droop.

On Monday, January 11, the vet staff checked the eagle’s wing but found no signs of injury. Daily exercise has been discontinued for a week to give the eagle time to rest. The veterinarians and rehabilitators are carefully monitoring the eagle’s wing droop.

January 6, 2016

During the past 10 days, Bald Eagle #15-0355 has continued to fly well during daily exercise. The staff and students report that she is regularly making 10-12 passes in flight pen A1 before becoming tired, showing an increase in stamina. The eagle will continue with daily exercise and needs to reach the optimum level of 15 passes end-to-end consistently for at least a week before consideration for release.

December 28, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-0355 has been flying well during the past few weeks in flight pen A1. Wildlife rehabilitator Leighann began pushing the eagle to the “optimum exercise level” on December 27 and said that the eagle is doing well, but needs a little bit more work on stamina. As long as exercise goes well during the next couple of weeks, the staff hope that the eagle will be able to be released in 2016.

December 9, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-0355 has made slow and steady improvement in the past three weeks. The bird is now consistently flying 10 passes end-to-end and has been able to gain and maintain good height during exercise sessions. The eagle’s stamina has also increased, but Bald Eagle #15-0355 has yet to reach optimal level [15 passes end-to-end] and will continue with daily exercise sessions to improve her conditioning in the upcoming weeks.

November 19, 2015

The rehabilitation staff has continued to exercise Bald Eagle #15-0355 during the past two weeks. The eagle is still not flying well consistently but has shown some improvement. The eagle often becomes tired or stubborn during exercise sessions and gains only moderate height in flight, but is making more passes and better height than earlier this month.

A feet and feather exam on November 16 showed several broken feather tips, but the eagle is in good body condition overall.

Daily exercise will continue, giving the eagle more time to gain strength and stamina.

November 6, 2015

On October 22, Bald Eagle #15-0355 was moved to flight pen A2. After several days of adjusting to the larger space, the rehabilitation staff started daily exercise sessions with the eagle. At this point, the eagle is not flying well, though several weeks of conditioning will be needed to determine if there are permanent flight deficits due to the eagle’s injuries. The staff report that the eagle is able to fly a total of about six to seven passes right now, mostly at low altitudes. Exercise will continue during the month of November.

September 11, 2015

During the past week, Bald Eagle #15-0355 has been lightly exercised by the rehabilitation staff. Though the bird has made some improvement in her ability to fly, she is still not flying very well.

On September 11, the rehabilitation staff moved Bald Eagle #15-0355 to the tower in A3 for further rest and recovery, where the eagle now shares an enclosure with eaglet #15-0733.

September 7, 2015

The veterinary staff have been doing a fair amount of “eagle shuffling” this summer – with 9-10 Bald Eagle patients in care all summer long, there has been a lot of bird-moving to ensure that the eagles that are closest to release can be safely exercised and prepared for life back in the wild.

On August 28, Bald Eagle #15-0355 was moved back to flight pen A1. While it will be awhile before this bird is ready for release, the staff felt it would be easier to manage the eagle in a larger space; Bald Eagle #15-0355 has been prone to some carpal wounds, despite the protective “wrist” bumpers. Currently, Bald Eagle #15-0355 is sharing a space with Bald Eagle #15-1667 – though that bird is nearly ready for release!

Bald Eagle #15-0355 is being lightly exercised and has been making about five to seven passes during the course of an exercise session. The eagle is able to perch on the high swinging perches in the enclosure, though usually loses altitude during exercise after making a few passes in the large flight pen. The staff will continue to exercise the eagle and monitor her flying abilities.

August 14, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-0355 has been doing well during the past month and has a good appetite – the bird seems to prefer rat versus fish for daily meals.

On July 27, the veterinary staff noticed a small lesion on the eagle’s right wing and applied ointment and a bandage. The staff also noted that the eagle was molting several of her primary and tail feathers – typical for eagles in late summer.

On July 29, the eagle was moved from a smaller outdoor enclosure [C-pen] to a slightly larger flight pen [FP4]. The bird is doing well in the flight pen, and the staff continues to monitor her appetite and carpal wound. An exam on August 10 showed that the wound is healing well and the bird is in good body condition.

The eagle will remain in a smaller enclosure until space opens up in a larger flight pen.

July 15, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-0355 has been living with eaglets #15-1250 and #15-1348 during the past couple of weeks. While the adult eagle has not been regularly exercised since the addition of the young eagles, the staff note that the bird still struggles to get lift during flight, and often has trouble flying to high perches. With the eaglets growing and needing more room for exercise of their own, Bald Eagle #15-0355 was moved to a smaller outdoor enclosure. The staff will continue to evaluate the Bald Eagle; the bird will likely move to a larger space again after several eaglets have been released.

June 22, 2015

The rehabilitation staff has continued to exercise Bald Eagle #15-0355 daily. At first it seemed that the eagle was making slight improvements during sessions; however, the bird still has difficulty maintaining flight and is only able to make two to four passes. The eagle also frequently hops along the ground instead of flying during exercise sessions. The rehabilitation staff will continue to exercise Bald Eagle #15-0355 and monitor its flying abilities.

June 12, 2015

The rehabilitation staff has been exercising Bald Eagle #15-0355 in flight pen A1 for the past ten days. During daily exercise sessions, the eagle has poor stamina and cannot gain height during flight; rather than fly end-to-end in the enclosure, the eagle often hops along the ground and cannot fly up to the perches. The eagle has been observed on the Critter Cam as spending most of her time on the lower A-frame perch.

On June 10, the staff made the decision to separate Bald Eagle #15-0355 (high-heels duct tape bumpers) from her roommate, Bald Eagle #15-0642 (checkered duct tape bumpers), in order to give both birds a better chance at gaining strength and stamina during flight conditioning.

Eagle #15-0355 was moved to flight pen A2, and staff will continue to exercise the bird daily. Rehabilitation intern Kendra says that the eagle is already showing slight signs of improvement during exercise in the new enclosure.


June 2, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-0355 (wearing high-heel duct tape bumpers) has been monitored in the large outdoor enclosure during the past two weeks. The eagle has been maneuvering around the enclosure but has difficulty flying to the higher perches.

On May 30, the veterinary staff cleared the eagle to begin daily exercise for flight conditioning. The rehabilitation staff report that the eagle has poor stamina, cannot fly to the higher perches, and makes only a few low passes end-to-end in the enclosure. The staff will continue to exercise the eagle with the goal of increasing the bird’s stamina and ability to fly to higher perches.

May 21, 2015

After moving Bald Eagle #15-0355 to an outdoor pen on May 8, the veterinary and rehabilitation staff monitored the eagle for a left wing droop. The eagle was maneuvering well around the small outdoor enclosure [C1] and showed no signs of a wing droop, although the bird’s appetite was not strong.

By May 20, the veterinary staff determined that the bird was able to move to a large flight pen [A1]. The larger space allows the eagle to fly more and build strength in her wings and chest.

Bald Eagle #15-0642 was also moved into A1 on May 21. The perches in the enclosure have been lowered so both birds can more easily reach them.

Staff will continue to monitor the eagle’s left wing and appetite.

May 11, 2015

During the past three weeks, veterinary staff continued to conservatively treat Bald Eagle #15-0355’s broken wing and leg. The veterinary staff performed physical therapy sessions and bandage changes every three days. On April 28, Dr. Meghan carefully re-examined the bird’s wing and leg and noted that swelling was decreasing at both fracture sites.

Radiographs taken in early May indicated that the bird’s leg and wing fractures were healing, but were not stable enough to allow the bird to be moved to an outdoor enclosure. For the next week, Bald Eagle #15-0355 remained in the Center’s holding room to allow the bird’s injuries to heal.

On May 8, follow-up radiographs revealed a stable callus had formed on the bird’s wing. The bird’s fibula also showed improved signs of healing. Since the eagle’s wing fracture was stable and the fractured leg bone is not a weight-bearing bone, the veterinary staff decided to discontinue bandaging the Bald Eagle’s injuries and move the bird outside to one of the Center’s C-pens [C1].

The veterinary staff will continue to monitor the eagle’s progress and examine the healing fractures in the upcoming weeks.