Osprey #17-0622

Admission Date: 
April 26, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Franklin County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Possible contact with a powerline and lead toxicity
Died May 10, 2017
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On April 22, an adult Osprey was found on the ground in Franklin County and was brought to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center (SVWC) for an initial assessment. On April 26, the bird was transferred to the Wildlife Center for further care and was admitted as patient #17-0622.

Upon physical examination by the veterinary team, the osprey was bright, alert, and feisty, but was was underweight and dehydrated with minor bruising on her right wing. The osprey had singed wing tips, leading the staff to believe it came into contact with a powerline. The veterinary team also cleaned and treated a wound on the bird's cere.

Radiographs were unremarkable, but blood work revealed that the osprey had a lead level of 0.316 ppm, which is abnormally high and necessitates treatment for lead toxicity. The bird was prescribed a course of two medications -- one to remove lead from its bones, and another to remove lead from its soft tissue -- as well as daily fluids to help mitigate damage to its kidneys from the lead medications. Treatment for lead toxicity was completed on May 1; blood work will be performed on May 2 to check lead levels to determine if further treatment is needed.

The bird had already been in captivity for multiple days upon admission to the Center, and was likely very stressed from injury, illness, and contact with humans; the veterinary staff started the patient on preventative treatment for aspergillosis. Aspergillosis is an opportunistic pathogen in birds, so it is very likely to develop in birds with unusual stress.

Ospreys are difficult to care for in captivity, as they can be extremely difficult to keep nourished. They are piscivores (fish eaters) and are usually very unwilling to eat in captivity; therefore, Osprey #17-0622 must be force-fed twice daily because it is not eating on its own.

Your donation helps to provide for the specialized care for this osprey, as well as the 2,500 animals that are admitted to the Center annually.


May 12, 2017

Osprey #17-0622 was found dead in his enclosure on the morning of May 10.

The bird's health deteriorated during the days leading up to its death; its lead levels persisted, and unfortunately, the bird died before completion of the second round of chelation treatment.

Acute chronic lead poisoning can be difficult to treat, as lead hides in the bones when ingested in small amounts over a prolonged period of time. The small amount is not enough to cause neurologic symptoms, but levels build up in the bones after passing through the blood stream.

May 9, 2017

After Osprey #17-0622 completed its first round of lead treatment on May 1, the staff decided to move the bird outside to see if more space and natural sounds would help stimulate the bird's appetite. The osprey did begin eating fish intermittently, though the staff still relied on gavage-feeding a specialized diet to maintain the bird's weight.

An additional lead test on May 6 revealed that the bird's lead levels increased again to a level of 0.35 ppm; because lead can be absorbed into a raptor's bones, levels can increase even after treatment as the lead is leached back out into the bird's system. A second course of chelation therapy was started, and the bird was moved back inside for the twice daily treatments.