On January 8, an adult Bald Eagle was found injured on the ground near a roadway in Henrico County after likely being hit by a vehicle. A Henrico County Animal Control officer responded to the scene that day, safely contained the bird, and arranged for transport to the Wildlife Center of Virginia through a registered volunteer transporter on January 9.
Upon admission, veterinary staff noted the bird’s overall poor body condition and dehydrated state, and observed a significant amount of blood coming from the eagle’s throat and nasal cavities. A physical examination revealed a fractured left humerus and a small necrotic wound over the inside of the eagle’s left leg. Radiographs confirmed the severity of the fractured humerus, and also showed signs of significant internal bruising to the lungs and air sacs.
A blood sample was collected for an emergency panel and in-house lead test, resulting in a positive reading of 0.094 ppm. While technically categorized as a subclinical level, any amount of lead within an eagle’s body has the potential to cause additional health issues if left untreated.
Immediately following the exam, veterinary staff temporarily stabilized the bird’s left wing with a body wrap, administered pain medications, antibiotics, and fluids, and a chelation therapy treatment regimen was started to gradually remove the lead from the eagle’s system.
After determining that the patient’s condition had stabilized, veterinary intern Dr. Olivia surgically repaired the fractured humerus by pacing small pins into the bone on either side of the fracture site. Radiographs were taken to confirm the accuracy and proper alignment of the pins, and an external fixator was applied to help stabilize the area.
For now, the eagle will remain in the Center’s indoor Hold area where it is receiving daily checks, wound cleaning, and bandage changes. The injury to the bird’s left leg is proving difficult to resolve, however – Dr. Olivia notes that the size of the wound itself has increased during the past week and is not responding well to treatments.
Due to the severity of its wounds and history of lead toxicosis, the current prognosis for this patient is guarded to poor. Veterinary staff plan to reassess the viability of continued treatment and rehabilitation for this eagle on January 28.