On June 17, a private citizen in Poquoson, Virginia saw an immature Bald Eagle on the ground and called the local police department. An officer went to the rescue location and called local permitted wildlife rehabilitator Dana Lusher, who in turn, called a local registered volunteer transporter who regularly makes trips between Hampton Roads and the Wildlife Center. The eagle sat on a bench before it hopped off and was able to be captured.
When the young eagle arrived at the Center, it was quiet but alert and was standing normally in the transport crate. Dr. Peach, the Center’s veterinary research fellow, examined the Bald Eagle and found that it was very thin, covered in feather lice, and had a significantly low heart rate. Dr. Peach provided a dose of atropine to stimulate the heart.
The eagle’s eye examination was within normal limits; blood was taken and revealed a “low” lead level (which is essentially within normal limits). The additional blood work indicated that the bird was anemic and had an abnormally low level of protein in the blood, likely due to the bird’s very thin body condition. Dr. Peach attempted to anesthetize the eagle for radiographs, but the bird’s heart rate dropped quickly, so Dr. Peach decided to treat the bird for anemia, dehydration, and parasites, and then settled the bird into a crate for the night.
It’s likely that this hatch-year bird was not being cared for by its parents, though organophosphate toxicity can also cause a very low heart rate.
The following morning, the eagle was stable enough for anesthesia and Dr. Peach was able to take radiographs of the young bird. She noted that the eagle’s right leg was swollen, though no fractures were noted.
The eagle will remain in the Center’s holding room until it is eating well and gains weight. The bird’s prognosis is guarded due to the low heart rate and very thin body condition.