Bald Eagle #15-1348 (GW91)

Species Name (EN): 
Species Name (LA): 
Admission Date: 
June 28, 2015
Release Date: 
September 21, 2015
Location of Rescue: 
Smarts Creek, Montross, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Unable to fly
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On June 27, a hatch-year Bald Eagle was found on the ground with water-logged feathers in Westmoreland County. The eagle was easily captured and transported to Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation by wildlife rehabilitator Diana O’Connor. Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation staff noted that the bird was very thin, but found no other injuries. The eagle was transferred to the Wildlife Center the next day.

During the initial exam, Bald Eagle #15-1348 was dull and lying sternal [chest down]. Dr. Meghan examined the bird and found that the eagle infested with flat flies and lice and also had significant damage to multiple feathers shafts on her tail and each wing. Radiographs and blood work were unremarkable.

The veterinary staff administered fluids and started the eagle on a broad spectrum anti-parasitic medication. The bird was placed in the Center’s holding room and offered a meal of chopped rat.

The next morning, Bald Eagle #15-1348 was bright, alert, and standing, but had not eaten any of her meal. The eagle will be offered a variety of foods to see if she will begin to eat on her own. The veterinary team will monitor the bird for any changes in attitude or condition.

The Center depends on the donations of caring individuals to provide veterinary care to wildlife and training in wildlife veterinary medicine. Please help! 


September 22, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-1348 (GW91) was released on September 21 in front of a crowd of about 50 people. Dr. Dave, the Center’s veterinary director, released the bird. The eagle flew over the trees and attendees, over a long corn field, to a tree where she finally perched. Track the eagle’s whereabouts here!



Photos by Barbara Melton: 

September 18, 2015

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, will release a juvenile Bald Eagle on Monday, September 21 at 12 noon in Westmoreland County. The eagle will be released by Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center’s Director of Veterinary Services.

The release is free and open to the public. Individuals who wish to attend should meet at the Visitor Center of the George Washington Birthplace National Monument; attendees are asked to RSVP to the Center at The address for the George Washington Birthplace National Monument is 1732 Popes Creek Road; Colonial Beach, VA 22443.

The Bald Eagle to be released on Monday – a bird hatched earlier this year – was found on the ground, unable to fly, near Montross on June 27. The eagle was examined by wildlife rehabilitator Diana O’Connor of Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation; the eagle was transferred to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro on June 28 and admitted as patient #15-1348 [the 1,348th patient of 2015]. The eagle received a complete physical examination, including radiographs and blood work; the eagle was very thin, had damaged tail and wing feathers, and was infested with flat flies and lice. The vet staff administered fluids and started the eagle on a broad spectrum anti-parasitic medication.

For the first few days after admission, the veterinary team continued to provide fluids and hand-fed the eagle. On June 30, the bird was moved to one of the Center’s outdoor enclosures. A complete case history is available on the Center’s website, at:

The eagle has spent the past few months in the Center’s outdoor pens, slowly building up strength and stamina and gaining weight. Center veterinary and rehabilitation staff have been exercising the eagle for several weeks; they have determined that the eagle is able to fly well and is ready to be returned to the wild.

The eagle to be released on Monday has been outfitted with a transmitter, which will allow the eagle’s travels to be tracked. This will be the seventh Bald Eagle treated at the Center that has been released with a transmitter. Additional information about the other six eagles is available at:

The Bald Eagle first appeared as an American symbol on a Massachusetts copper cent coined in 1776. The Great Seal of the United States, first used in 1782, includes the outstretched wings of a Bald Eagle. The Bald Eagle has been the national symbol since 1787 and has been frequently used in U.S. currency, stamps, passports, etc.

It is estimated that the Bald Eagle population of North America numbered about half a million before European settlement. With the loss of habitat, hunting, and the effects of DDT and other pesticides, the U.S. eagle population plummeted. In 1977, for example, there were fewer than 50 Bald Eagle nests in Virginia.

Today, the Bald Eagle population in Virginia is on the rebound. There are now more than 1,000 active Bald Eagle nests in the Commonwealth.

Since its founding in 1982, the Wildlife Center has treated scores of Bald Eagles, done extensive studies of environmental factors that affect eagles and other wildlife, and worked to reform laws and regulations to strengthen the protection afforded to Bald Eagles. The Center is currently treating nine Bald Eagles, including the bird to be released on Monday.

Every year, about 2,400 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to Black Bear cubs to hummingbirds and chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. The goal of the Center is “to treat to release” – to restore patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine. Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Center has cared for more than 65,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The Center’s public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wildlife, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife.
In July 2011, the Center launched Critter Cam, which allows wildlife enthusiasts around the world to watch a variety of Center patients, including the eagle to be released on Monday. Patients that are currently “featured” on one of the three Critter Cam feeds, in addition to the Bald Eagle to be released on Monday, are seven rambunctious Black Bear Cubs, and three Wildlife Center permanent residents – Buddy, a Bald Eagle; Buttercup, a Black Vulture; and Maggie, a Peregrine Falcon. A link to Critter Cam can be found at

The George Washington Birthplace National Monument estate was originally settled by John Washington, George Washington’s great-grandfather. The future President was born there on February 22, 1732 and lived there until age three, returning later as a teenager. The 661-acre property, where Popes Creek joins the Potomac River, was established as a National Monument in 1930 and is a property of the National Park Service. The estate includes river shoreline, groves of trees, gardens, open fields, hiking trails, and the Washington family Burial Ground. Additional information is available at

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Note to the Press: Media representatives are invited to attend the release. Please contact Randy Huwa at 540.942.9453 or at to RSVP.

Photos of patients treated at the Wildlife Center, including the Bald Eagle to be released on Monday, are available. Please contact Randy Huwa at 540.942.9453 or at

September 17, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-1348 has been flying very well during the past week. On Wednesday, September 16, the eagle was caught up for a pre-release exam and blood draw. Results were within normal limits, and Dr. Helen declared the eagle ready for release.

The young eagle will be released on Monday, September 21 in Colonial Beach, Westmoreland County, Virginia at 12 noon. The release party will meet at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument [1732 Popes Creek Road, Colonial Beach, VA]. Dr. Dave, the Center’s veterinary director, will release the bird. The release is open to the public; those planning on attending should RSVP to Lacy at Attendees should plan to meet at the Visitor Center.

The eagle is wearing a GPS transmitter; after release, updates will be available on the Center's Eagle Tracking page. This bird will be known as GW91. 

September 9, 2015

Bald Eaglet #15-1348 has been exercising well during the past two weeks. The bird has increased her stamina, and generally has good height and form while flying. The bird is currently flying an average of 13-14 passes in the flight pen before tiring, which is nearly at optimum condition.

Because this eaglet is flying well and is likely the next bird to be released, the eaglet was fitted with a GPS transmitter by Department of Game and Inland Fisheries eagle biologist Jeff Cooper on September 8. Jeff came to fit Bald Eagle #15-1667 with a GPS transmitter prior to her release. Because this eaglet is a young bird, Jeff and the Center staff would prefer to have the unit on this bird for at least a week prior to release.

The eagle will be a part of an ongoing research study that will monitor eagle movements. This study looks at the data received from these tracked Bald Eagles to determine the range and behavior of Bald Eagles in Virginia’s coastal plain. Migratory behavior is studied as biologists are able to see how far Bald Eagles move in the winter season, and the data will play an important role in modeling how these birds use airspace. By looking at heights at which the eagles fly, average distances, and other specifics, biologists are able to relate this eagle behavior to real-life issues, such as airstrike data. During the past few years, VDGIF Biologist Jeff Cooper has fitted dozens of Bald Eagles with GPS transmitters.

For the Wildlife Center, this is a fantastic opportunity for additional post-release studies of our rehabilitated raptors. There have been very few studies done in this area. The Wildlife Center will be able to see and share GPS data; the bird will be added to the Eagle Tracking page on our website.

Exercise will continue during the next week. Continued improvement in the bird's flight capabilities will be needed before the eagle is cleared for release. No determination has been made of the time and place for a release.

August 27, 2015

Bald Eagle #15-1348 has continued with daily exercise sessions in A2. While the bird is able to fly more than 10 passes in the flight pen, the bird frequently flies low to the ground after it begins to tire. The eaglet will need to gain more stamina and height during flight conditioning sessions before it can be considered for release.

After the recent releases of Bald Eagle #15-0642 and Bald Eaglet #15-1250, the rehabilitation team will do some “eagle shuffling”, so that some of the other young eagles at the Center can begin exercise. In the next few days, Bald Eaglet #15-1261 will join eaglet #15-1348 in A2.

August 14, 2015

Bald Eagles #15-1667 and #15-1348 continue to do well in flight pen A2. Both birds are eating well and are consistently making 10 passes perch-to-perch. While the two eagles’ flying abilities are improving, each bird still needs to improve in endurance and perching before they can be considered ready for release. The rehabilitation staff will continue to exercise the eagles in the upcoming weeks.

August 3, 2015

The staff have been able to observe Bald Eagle #15-1667 during the past few days via Critter Cam; the eagle remained still unable to fly well through Saturday, August 1. The staff noted an intermittent right wing droop via the webcams, and also observed the eagle being a little unstable after hopping off of the A-frame, though the bird recovered her balance well.

On August 1, the staff decided to switch eagles – Bald Eagle #15-1667 and Bald Eagle #15-1250 switched places. This allowed the better flying eagles, #15-1250 and #15-0642, to be together in flight pen A1. Eagle #15-1667 now shares the A2 flight pen with young eaglet #15-1348.

On Sunday, August 2, the staff noted some improvement in eagle 15-1667's flight capabilities; the bird was able to fly from an A-frame perch to a higher swinging perch. On August 3, the rehabilitation staff exercised eaglet #15-1348 and reported that adult eagle #15-1667 was able to keep pace -- she flew the length of the flight pen a total of 10 times!  The staff will continue to exercise and monitor the eagle during the next week.


July 15, 2015

Bald Eaglets #15-1250 and 15-1348 have been doing well together in A2 during the past week. The birds are eating well, and Bald Eaglet #15-1250 is flying very well. Eaglet #15-1348 is likely a couple of weeks younger than the other bird, and is still fairly sedentary.

On July 15, the staff will begin to exercise Bald Eaglet #15-1250 to prepare the bird for release later this summer.

July 8, 2015

For a couple of days following admission, Bald Eaglet #15-1348 remained quiet and dull. The veterinary team continued to provide fluids to the bird and hand-fed the eaglet to ensure it was receiving enough nutrition. On June 30, the bird was moved to a small outdoor enclosure, to see if the move would stimulate its appetite. The bird began eating on its own and appeared to be brighter.

After the staff were sure that the eaglet was consistently eating, the young eagle was moved to flight pen A2, to share an enclosure with eaglet #15-1250 and Bald Eagle #15-0355. The eaglet has gained nearly a kilogram since its admission and currently weighs 3.70 kg.