Bald Eagle #17-1454

Admission Date: 
June 15, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Williamsburg, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Fractured wing
Euthanized June 22, 2017
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On June 15, the Wildlife Center admitted an immature Bald Eagle from a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. The eagle was initially found down in Williamsburg in May, not flying. During the past three weeks, the eagle has reportedly been eating well, but lacked the energy and willingness to exercise.

Dr. Ernesto examined the eagle when it arrived; the bird was bright, alert, and standing in its transport crate. The bird was thin; a physical exam also revealed a stable right ulnar fracture with callus formation present. Radiographs confirmed the healing fracture; judging by the state of the callus formation, Dr. Ernesto estimates that the fracture is likely about 10 days old. The eagle received a dose of anti-inflammatories and subcutaneous fluids and was set up in the Center's holding room.

The healing bone is well-aligned and Dr. Ernesto doesn’t anticipate complications; with physical therapy, the eagle should be able to regain full use of the wing. Physical therapy has been scheduled for every other day for the next two weeks; the bird will then move to a larger outdoor enclosure for observation.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide veterinary medical care to this eagle ... and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.


June 26, 2017

On June 22, Drs. Ernesto and Peach took Bald Eagle #17-1454 to surgery again to attempt to repair the bird's fractured humerus. Unfortunately, during surgery, Dr. Ernesto noted that the bone was flexible and weak; as the bone was held to attempt repair, it shattered into several small pieces. Given the grave prognosis, the team decided to humanely euthanize the eagle.

It's likely that the bird was suffering from some sort of metabolic disorder, which caused the bones to drastically weaken. Many metabolic disorders have a nutritional component, though other possible causes include toxicity or renal failure.

June 22, 2017

On Sunday, June 18, Center staff were startled to find that Bald Eagle #17-1454 had fractured its right humerus; Dr. Ernesto is unsure how this occurred since the eagle is housed in an airline crate and not able to fly or flap. Blood was drawn to send to an outside laboratory for analysis; the wing was wrapped carefully and the bird started on a course of pain medication.

On June 21, Dr. Peach took the eagle to surgery to attempt to pin the fractured wing. She was able to drive the pin through the length of the bone much more easily than expected; unfortunately, the pin and external fixator system did not stay in place, and she had to discontinue the procedure. Drs. Peach and Ernesto will attempt surgery again on June 22.

Radiographs do not indicate obvious issues with bone density, but the veterinary team suspects that the young bird may have an underlying metabolic issue. Additional test results may reveal more information.