On Tuesday, May 24, #11-0476 (NV) was re-tested for lead. For the past two weeks, the lead level has been slowly decreasing. This time, veterinary technician Leigh-Ann Horne found that the lead level was mildly elevated at 0.078 ppm [up from 0.053 ppm]. The veterinary staff aren't quite sure what to make of this elevated reading, so NV will be re-checked today [May 25]. Blood samples will also be sent to an outside lab for verification. Lead may be stored in the bones of an affected bird and may be slowly released over time. This elevated reading could be a data error or a result of his body's attempt to purge the lead from its system. Since NV is growing, we may be seeing this slight elevation as his bones are remodeling -- which may be causing lead to leach into his blood stream. The veterinary team decided to test NX and NZ as well. Enough blood will be taken so that a complete blood count and a chemistry panel can also be run -- something that all raptors receive once a month while at the WCV. The blood draw will take place at 12:30 p.m. today.
This afternoon's blood draw went well -- everything went very quickly, despite the fact that the eaglets put up quite a fuss! NV in particular was very defensive and tough to capture. The in-house lead results are in: NZ: low NX: low NV: 0.062 ppm For NZ and NX, "low" is considered normal. On our lead machine, there is no "zero" reading -- those eagles and other raptors that don't have any lead in their system will read as "low." So nothing to worry about there -- certainly no contaminated food sources at the WCV, which we didn't think was the case to begin with. NV's lead levels were lower than yesterday's reading [0.078 ppm] but still higher than last week's reading. A blood sample was sent to a lab in Ohio for another test, just so we can compare the results to the in-house reading. At this point, there's nothing to worry about -- overall, this is still a fairly low reading, meaning no treatment is needed. And we certainly know that NV has not been lethargic or weak!