Bald Eagle #18-0132

Admission Date: 
March 6, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Albemarle County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Likely hit by vehicle
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On March 5, a private citizen from the Charlottesville area noticed a Bald Eagle with a drooping wing on the ground near a road. The incident was reported to local Animal Control Officers, who then contacted a Wildlife Center volunteer transporter. The eagle was rescued on March 6 and admitted to the Center later that day.

Dr. Ernesto, the Center’s Hospital Director, examined the adult female eagle on arrival. The eagle was quite, alert, and responsive during the physical exam, but had a low heart rate and increased respiratory sounds. The left eye was slightly enlarged, and a faint crack was located on one of the eagle’s talons on the right foot.

The results of emergency blood work were unremarkable, but radiographs revealed signs of severe internal trauma to soft-tissue and organs, including an abnormally large amount of fluid in the chest cavity near the heart, and evidence of significant bruising on the eagle’s lungs. Dr. Ernesto noted that while the enlarged eye may be the result of an unrelated event or natural asymmetry, the eagle’s internal injuries suggest it had suffered from a high-impact collision, and may have been struck by a vehicle.

The eagle was placed in the Center’s holding room, where it received supportive care including oxygen therapy, fluids, pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and anti-parasitics. Several days after admission, the eagle improved, though still had an increased level of respiratory sounds during daily monitoring, indicating the possibility of additional fluid in the lungs or air sacs.

The eagle is currently being housed in the indoor holding area of the Center. Veterinary staff will continue to monitor its clinical signs daily, administer medications, and change protective bandages as needed. A second set of radiographs are scheduled to be taken on March 13, after which the staff will reassess the eagle’s overall condition and develop a plan of long-term care.

Based on the severity of the internal trauma, prognosis is guarded.

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


June 5, 2018

Bald Eagle #18-0132 is recovering well in the Center’s indoor holding area, and the wound on the eagle’s toe has been healing appropriately and remains free of infection.

Veterinary staff plan to keep the eagle indoors until the wound fully heals, as bandaging the area would affect the eagle’s ability to properly perch in an outdoor flight pen.

May 23, 2018

During daily flight conditioning on May 13, rehabilitation staff noted an open sore-like wound on one of Bald Eagle 18-0132’s right toes; the wound was swollen and bleeding. The eagle was transferred to an indoor holding area, and the next day, Dr. Ernesto surgically debrided and closed the infected wound while the eagle was anesthetized. After disinfecting the area and applying medical honey, a protective bandage was applied.

It’s possible the lesion developed due to prolonged periods of inactivity while perching in-between daily exercise sessions. The eagle will remain indoors throughout the coming week, and veterinary staff will monitor the wound, change the bandages as needed, and administer pain and anti-microbial medication each day. 

May 11, 2018

Bald Eagle #18-0132 has been improving during daily flight conditioning during the past two weeks, though the bird still needs to improve more prior to release. The eagle is able to fly the length of the 100-foot long enclosure about 10 times before tiring; the eagle typically maintains height until the last pass. The staff will continue to exercise this eagle in the weeks to come.

This week, the eagle was the subject of a special eagle research project; the Center is participating in this project with researchers from Purdue University. Click here to learn more about this research.

April 23, 2018

Bald Eagle #18-0132 was transferred to a large outdoor flight pen on April 19. The eagle has been behaving normally and appears to be regaining physical strength, but will be housed alone until the additional samples taken during the past week are fully analyzed and no signs of Avian Pox are found. On April 20, the eagle began a daily physical conditioning regimen and will continue to be exercised during the coming weeks.

Keep an eye on Critter Cam 3 to see if you can catch a glimpse of this eagle!

April 17, 2018

On April 8, Bald Eagle #18-0132 was transferred to an outdoor enclosure after successfully completing a week-long physical therapy regimen. Veterinary staff report that she is eating well, is bright and alert, and very feisty. During daily monitoring on April 12, one of the veterinary staff noted what appeared to be abnormal lesions on her beak, a possible symptom of Avian Pox. Pox is a naturally occurring virus in the wild transmitted by direct contact with infected surfaces, as well as mosquitoes. Several skin swabs of the lesions were collected on April 15 and analyzed in-house, but did not provide definitive results. Additional samples will be collected and sent to an off-site laboratory to ensure an accurate diagnosis. In the meantime, the eagle will remain outdoors and be regularly monitored while receiving supportive care. Appropriate health and safety precautions will be taken by staff when handling, feeding, and cleaning her enclosure to prevent any possible contamination of equipment or materials.

April 4, 2018

Bald Eagle #18-0132 recovered quickly while in the Center’s indoor holding area, and was transferred to a small outdoor enclosure on April 1. Veterinary staff noted significant improvement in the eagle’s ability to properly extend and rotate her right wing, and the stabilizing body wrap was permanently removed on April 3. The eagle will have her clinical signs monitored and receive daily physical therapy throughout the next week, and may be transferred to a larger outdoor enclosure after being reevaluated on April 10.

March 26, 2018

On March 23, Bald Eagle #18-0132 was transferred to an outdoor flight pen to begin physical conditioning. During the first exercise session the following day, the eagle remained on the ground and did not attempt to fly. Radiographs that were taken on March 19 were re-evaluated, and closer inspection revealed soft-tissue swelling and a suspected fracture on the eagle’s right coracoid. A physical exam was performed, and the right shoulder showed an unusual amount of laxity. Dr. Monica noted that the shoulder joints seemed to be stable, indicating this may be an old injury that was not identified during the eagle’s initial evaluation. 

To prevent further injury, a body wrap incorporating the bird's right wing was fitted to reduce excessive movement. The eagle was transferred to the Center’s indoor holding area on March 24, where it will continue to receive daily anti-inflammatories and pain medication. The staff will reassess the eagle’s condition following radiographs scheduled for April 1.

March 20, 2018

During the past week, Bald Eagle #18-0132’s condition has stabilized. On March 13, the veterinary staff took additional radiographs that confirmed earlier findings of internal trauma, but Dr. Monica noted a significant improvement in the eagle’s heart rate, breathing, and overall condition. On March 14, a small amount of tissue glue was applied to the eagle’s cracked talon and it was transferred to a small outdoor enclosure. Because the eagle no longer requires daily treatments in the hospital, rehabilitation staff will be visually monitoring its status during the coming days before considering physical conditioning.