On April 1, a Bald Eagle nest at Seven Bends State Park in Shenandoah County blew out of its tree. Eagle biologists monitored the situation and found that during the next week, the parent eagles continued to feed their offspring, but by April 8, the biologists suspected that the young eaglet was not using its wings properly. State eagle biologist Jeff Cooper decided to bring the young bird to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for further assessment.
Upon admission, the young bird was bright and alert and had a body condition score of 2.5/5. Dr. Marit, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, was able to feel a callus on the eagle’s right wing, near the bird’s elbow joint. The area felt stable and the bird’s range of motion was good. Radiographs confirmed an old, healing fracture on both the bird’s radius and ulna. While everything appeared well-aligned and healing, the proximity of the fractures to the bird’s joint concerned the staff. Joints on a young, growing bird are not yet completely ossified, making it difficult to tell if the bird’s joint is involved in the injury.
The staff gave fluids to the eaglet and observed the bird in a small indoor enclosure for several days; by April 19, the young eagle was moved to the outdoor A3 raptor tower area. In this location, the bird has room to stretch and flap its wings and can see – but not yet access – the larger eagle flight space below, where several other Bald Eagle patients are recovering.
The young eagle has been eating well and gaining weight, and staff have not noted any abnormal wing droop. An additional set of radiographs are scheduled for late May; the staff hope that they can better assess any potential joint involvement at that time. The prognosis for the eagle is guarded – if the joint is involved, then the eagle would likely need to be humanely euthanized due to the pain and arthritis this bird would experience for the rest of its life.
Your donation will provide care to this young Bald Eagle ... and more than 3,800 other patients that the Center will admit in 2023. Thank you!