PATIENT: Bald Eagle, #11-0671
LOCATION OF RESCUE: Charles City County, VA
CIRCUMSTANCE OF ADMISSION:
May 11, 2011
Placed as an education bird with As Wings of Eagles in Indiana
On May 11, DGIF
Biologist J.D. Klepler responded to a call about an injured Bald Eagle at the Charles City County landfill. He captured the injured bird and DGIF Biologist Steve Living transported it to the Wildlife Center on the same day.
Dr. Miranda examined the immature Bald Eagle when it was admitted. She found inflammation in the front portion of the right eye, which meant she was unable to visualize the retina to check for further eye damage. She also found a left femoral fracture in the eagle's leg. The left carpus, or "wrist", was also bruised -- this could be due to the fact that the eagle was using its wings for balance due to the leg injury. The eagle tested "subclinical" for lead -- meaning there is a small amount in the bird's system, but not at a high enough level to treat. The lead level will be re-checked in several days.
Because the eagle was fairly depressed by the end of the physical examination, Dr. Miranda opted not to do radiographs, which would further stress the bird. Instead, she splinted the broken leg and started the eagle on pain medications, fluids, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. Surgery was scheduled for the next day.
On May 12, Drs. Miranda and Kelly took radiographs of Bald Eagle #11-0671 just to get an idea of what the fracture looked like before they took the bird to surgery. In addition to the fracture, they also spotted two shot pellets -- one which was located in the fracture site.
Surgery went well and lasted about an hour. Dr. Kelly performed the anesthesia and monitoring and Dr. Miranda pinned the fracture while three veterinary students watched and assisted. The shot pellet that was on top of the fracture site was removed. The vet staff has determined that there's no need to remove the second pellet from the muscle at the base of the eagle's tail -- it will not cause any problems for the bird.
Post-surgical recovery is always a tricky time -- the next 24 hours should be telling as to how the bird recovers from the prolonged anesthesia and surgery. If all goes well, the Bald Eagle will be recovering indoors for several weeks. Dr. Miranda will also regularly check the eagle's eye injury -- and will hope that the retina isn't damaged.
May 17 update
Post-surgery, Bald Eagle #11-0671 is looking brighter and more alert this week. Now standing, the Bald Eagle started eating on its own on May 16 -- as opposed to being hand fed for a couple days after surgery. The inflammation in the eagle's eye is slowly starting to resolve -- not enough for Dr. Miranda to see the retina yet, but she will hopefully be able to do that within the next week.
Blood was drawn for an additional lead test on May 17. While the lead level was "subclinical" at admission, meaning that no signs were present and no treatment was needed, the vet staff are encouraged to see the eagle's lead level decrease further.
May 27 update
Bald Eagle #11-0671's injured leg is healing well -- the eagle is standing and putting weight on the leg. The veterinary team will likely begin the gradual process of removing some of the eagle's "hardware" next week after more radiographs are taken.
The news on the Bald Eagle's eye is not as promising. As the inflammation has gradually diminished, Dr. Miranda has been able to see more of the bird's retina. On May 23, she confirmed that there is retinal scarring present in the right eye -- meaning that the bird is partly blind. This means that the eagle is non-releasable. Once the bird is fully healed and assessed in a larger enclosure, the Wildlife Center will consider placement options for this bird.
June 10 update
Bald Eagle #11-0671 received another round of radiographs on June 9. These radiographs confirmed that the bird's leg was healing quite well -- a nice stable callous had formed over the eagle's leg fracture. The WCV veterinary team pulled the pins out of the bird's leg and began a little physical therapy, since the eagle had a slightly decreased range of motion in that leg -- something to be expected. Once the pin sites are fully scabbed over, the eagle will be moved outside.
Additional eye examinations reveal that there is extensive scarring in the Bald Eagle's right eye -- only further confirming what Dr. Miranda spotted a few weeks ago. Once the eagle is living outside, placement options will be considered.
July 20 update
After conducting several more eye checks over the course of June, Dr. Miranda gave the thumbs up to find placement for this eagle. One place in Texas was specifically looking for a male eagle, so Dr. Miranda measured the eagle carefully to see if gender could be determined. The results: inconclusive. A DNA test was then ordered and a blood sample was taken to determine the gender. Just last week, the WCV received the results: it's a girl!
In the meantime, another non-profit group contacted the Center to inquire about the non-releasable eagle. Since the eagle ended up not being a suitable candidate for the Texas placement, the eagle will be going to live with As Wings of Eagles in Indiana. There, she will be trained as an education bird and will be used for programs.
August 3 update
Zach and Annie from As Wings of Eagles drove down to pick up their new education eagle last week. On Tuesday, July 26 the eagle journeyed back to Indiana with them and has already started training to become an education ambassador.
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