Bald Eagle #16-0038

Admission Date: 
February 2, 2016
Location of Rescue: 
Stafford, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Wing fracture
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On February 1, a mature Bald Eagle was found down on the ground in Stafford, Virginia. The bird was picked up by an animal control officer and taken to a local veterinary clinic before it was transferred to a permitted rehabilitator in the area. On February 2, the Bald Eagle was driven to the Wildlife Center of Virginia by a dedicated volunteer transporter.

Dr. Helen examined the Bald Eagle upon admission. The bird was bright and alert but very thin; Dr. Helen noted that the eagle had an irregular heartbeat, though no cardiac murmur was heard. The eagle, likely a female, had cuts and bruising around her mouth and bottom beak; the laceration on the right side of her face had bone exposed. Dr. Helen also found multiple, deep lacerations on both feet. Radiographs were taken, which confirmed multiple fractures in the eagle’s left radius, very close to the elbow joint.

Blood work was within normal limits. Dr. Helen also found a large brood patch on the Bald Eagle, indicating that she likely has an active nest.

All of the eagles lacerations were carefully cleaned, and both of the bird’s feet were bandaged. Since the wing fracture is well-aligned and close to the joint, Dr. Helen decided to treat the fracture conservatively, with a wing bandage and body wrap. The eagle was started on pain medication, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories.

Toward the end of the examination and treatment, the eagle stopped breathing under general anesthesia. Dr. Helen intubated the eagle and provided manual ventilation. After treatments, the eagle recovered from anesthesia and was placed in the Center’s holding room for the night. The veterinary team will treat the eagle’s wounds daily and will continue to cage-rest the eagle while the wing fracture heals.

At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release. Your donation will help support the Center’s life-saving work with this injured Bald Eagle … and with thousands of wild animals in need. 


February 21, 2018

As Bald Eagle 16-0038 was preparing to go to her new home this month, the bird collapsed suddenly in one of the Center’s flight pens. The rehabilitation staff rushed the bird into the hospital, where Drs. Ernesto and Peach started administering emergency treatment. Sadly, the bird died within minutes. The veterinary staff are taking samples to learn more about this bird’s unexpected death. 

May 29, 2017

Earlier this year, Bald Eagle #16-0038 received clearance from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for placement at an educational facility. The Bald Eagle will be going to live at Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, Virginia. Mill Mountain has applied for permits with the USFWS regional office; once all paperwork is finalized, the bird will go to her new home.

August 1, 2016

Bald Eagle #16-0038 has remained in flight pen A1, one of the Wildlife Center’s largest outdoor enclosures. The eagle is exercised daily by rehabilitation staff members, who report that the eagle regularly flies approximately 12 laps during each session. Although the eagle is still flying at a low height, on July 31 the bird was observed to be flying with its feet tucked beneath its body. Perching and stamina are reported to be improving as well. As of July 25, the eagle weighed 4.40 kg (9.7 lb).

Until the eagle is capable of sustained flight with increased stamina and shows improved perching capabilities, staff members will continue daily exercise and observation.

June 8, 2016

Bald Eagle #16-0038 has continued daily exercise during the past two months. The eagle has been making gradual improvement, though still is not flying well enough for release. The eagle typically flies an average of 12-14 laps in the Center’s large A-pen enclosure; 10 of those passes are usually good in quality, though sometimes the eagle misses landing on a perch and then struggles to gain height once grounded.

The staff will continue to exercise the eagle each day.

March 30, 2016

Bald Eagle #16-0038’s feet continue to slowly heal. On March 28, a routine check revealed that the lesion on the eagle’s left foot was swollen. A topical disinfectant and sealing agent were applied to the wound. Center staff continues to monitor the healing progress during bi-weekly foot and feather checks.

On March 19, Bald Eagle #16-0038 began daily exercise sessions. During the first week of exercising, Bald Eagle #16-0038 had difficulty landing and perching, but has since demonstrated the ability to perch with both feet - though sometimes unsteadily - during her exercise sessions.

The eagle has typically flown between four and seven passes end-to-end in the flight pen. The healed wing fracture does not appear to be impeding the eagle's ability to meet and maintain a good height and good wing position during exercise. The Center’s staff has noted, however, that the eagle does not glide well in flight and is somewhat noisy; both of these issues will hopefully resolve with continued exercise.

Because the eagle has consistently done well with daily flight conditioning, on March 29 the staff increased the expectations for Bald Eagle #16-0038’s daily flight conditioning to at least 10 passes end-to-end.

Rehabilitation staff will continue to track the bird’s perching and landing abilities during the coming weeks.

March 15, 2016

Bald Eagle #16-0038 remained in a small outdoor enclosure throughout the first half of March. On March 14, the veterinary team re-radiographed the eagle’s healing wing, and found that the fracture was healed and very stable. Dr. Dana noted that the eagle’s left wing is mildly stiff, but the bird is able to achieve full wing extension. The wounds on the eagle’s face and feet continue to heal well.

The Bald Eagle was moved to flight pen A3 after she recovered from anesthesia. The bird will be allowed to settle into the new space and will self-exercise for five days before a formal exercise program begins on March 19. The staff will monitor the eagle carefully and hope that the mild displacement of the healed fracture will not compromise her flight long-term.

March 1, 2016

On February 21, radiographs were taken to check on Bald Eagle #16-0038’s healing fracture; radiographs showed that the fracture alignment was unchanged. Dr. Dana expected to see a little more healing progress, but it’s likely that the fracture has been slower to callus since it’s been challenging for the vet staff to keep the eagle’s wing completely immobile.

On February 26, additional radiographs were taken; this time, a callus was present. There were no signs of synostosis [bone fusion], which was an initial concern. The bird was returned to the Center’s holding room, and the veterinary team changed the physical therapy sessions to every three days.

The eagle’s facial lacerations have healed, and the lacerations on the eagle’s feet have also been slowly healing, although the left foot still has a small open wound and remains bandaged. On February 29, the eagle’s wing bandage was removed, and the bird was placed outside in a small C-pen enclosure. The eagle will remain in a small enclosure for the near future, to reduce wing movement. The staff will monitor the eagle closely.

February 17, 2016

In the 10 days following her admission, Bald Eagle #16-0038 recovered in the Center’s holding room. At first, the eagle mostly left her wing bandage and body wrap alone, but soon it became a daily challenge to get the eagle to leave her bandages on! The eagle regularly picked at her wing bandages, and on a few occasions managed to partly remove or loosen them; Dr. Dana also noted that the bird is so large and strong, that even the body wrap doesn’t completely prevent the bird from slightly moving her injured wing.

On February 13, radiographs were taken to assess how the eagle’s fractured bone was healing, and how the additional movement may have affected the alignment of the bone. The veterinary team found that the fractured end of the bird’s radius had moved slightly toward the ulna, presenting an increased risk for synostosis [fusion of the radius and ulna bones]. The veterinarians scheduled the eagle for physical therapy every two days.

The lacerations on the eagle’s feet and face have improved and healed well; while one of the eagle’s feet was swollen last week, this has improved significantly and no infection appears to be present. The eagle will remain inside (and hopefully bandaged) for the next week. Another set of radiographs will be taken on February 21.

February 5, 2016

Bald Eagle #16-0038 is recovering quietly at the Wildlife Center. Dr. Dana reports that the eagle is perching, eating well, and mostly leaving her bandages alone, which can be an important component of the healing process! The eagle’s heart rate has been within normal limits during the past two days.

The veterinary team continues to clean the eagle’s foot and face wounds daily; all lacerations are currently static. Repeat radiographs are scheduled for February 13.