Bald Eagle #21-3792

Admission Date: 
December 24, 2021
Location of Rescue: 
Gloucester County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Undetermined
Prognosis: 
Poor
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On December 20, a private citizen found an adult Bald Eagle in the woods behind Rappahannock Community College in Saluda, VA. During the next two days, the citizen noticed that the eagle remained on the ground and did not seem able to fly. Concerned for the eagle’s well-being, they contacted Julie Wobig of Tidewater Wildlife Rescue. Julie captured the eagle later that night and took it to permitted wildlife rehabber Deb Woodward. The eagle was transferred to the Wildlife Center the following day.

On admission, the eagle (likely a male) was alert and responsive. Center veterinary intern Dr. Jenn examined the bird and found that he was very thin, dehydrated, and had a large open wound under his right wing. She also noticed that the eagle’s right leg had a decreased range of motion at the hip. Radiographs revealed bony changes in the eagle’s right hip joint, likely caused by an old injury. No other notable injuries were found. Dr. Jenn then ran an in-house lead test that came back with a positive reading of 0.103 ppm, a subclinical level.

The exam also revealed a federal US Fish and Wildlife Service band on the eagle’s left leg. Dr. Karra, the Center’s Director of Veterinary Services, reported the band number to the federal banding lab and learned that the eagle hatched in Newport News in 2013, making him almost nine years old. 

After the exam, Dr. Jenn cleaned and bandaged the eagle’s wound. She started the eagle on a course of pain medication, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and fluids. She also started him on a joint supplement to alleviate potential arthritis in his right hip joint, and once the eagle’s dehydration was corrected, she started chelation therapy to remove his lead. Dr. Jenn then placed the eagle in the Center’s indoor holding area for rest and close monitoring.

On December 28, veterinary staff anesthetized the eagle to surgically debride the wound under his right wing and suture it closed. In addition to the medication, veterinary staff applied ice packs and used laser therapy to aid in the wounds healing process. So far, the wound is healing nicely and has not shown any signs of infection.

For now, the eagle will remain in hold where it will receive daily treatment from the veterinary team. His prognosis is poor due to potential joint issues at his right hip.

A week after this bird's admission, another banded Bald Eagle was admitted to the Center after it was found injured in Williamsburg, Virginia. Sadly, this eagle did not survive its injuries, but information from the banding lab revealed that the eagle was also banded in Newport News in May 2013, at the same GPS coordinates, likely indicating that these two birds are siblings. 

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