On June 22, Reese Lukei with the Center for Conservation Biology rescued a juvenile Bald Eagle that had just fledged from its nest in the Little Neck area of Virginia Beach. The bird had never left its nest before, but it had many broken tail feathers. When it leaped from its nest, it did not fly, and instead, just floated to the ground. Lukei recounts that it could not get more than two feet off the ground and was experiencing respiratory distress, so he picked up the bird and took it to permitted wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Barlow before it was transferred to the Wildlife Center of Virginia the next day.
Veterinary intern Dr. Marit examined this eagle upon admission and found that it was bright and alert, as well as mildly dehydrated. There were no significant wounds or fractures, but the eagle had many broken and tattered tail feathers. The tail feathers present all had stress bars, which appear as straight lines across the feather; these typically indicate some sort of issue (nutritional issues, disease, or environment) at the time of feather growth and development. The bird also had two small abrasions on the tip of its left wing and a small hard mass on the left side of its beak. The eagle was given fluids and started on prophylactic anti-fungal medications. The veterinary team continued to monitor the eagle’s respiratory rate and wounds in the days following admission, though no significant issues were noted.
The eaglet moved to a small outdoor enclosure during an initial quarantine period before the rehabilitation team moved the young eagle to the lofted area of one of the Center’s largest flight enclosures. From this raptor tower area, the eagle was able to see and hear three other young hatch-year eaglets. After the bird’s round of medications was complete on July 19, the staff opened the doors of the tower and allowed the bird access to the main flight area with the other eaglets.
This juvenile Bald eagle is the offspring of an adult male Bald Eagle who was a former patient at the Wildlife Center. Bald Eagle #21-0013 was a patient in January 2021; at the bird’s release, Lukei banded the eagle as “SB”. SB went on to mate and reproduce in Virginia Beach that same year; this young Bald Eaglet is one of three chicks that SB produced in 2023.