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Photos: Bald Eagle Release

After getting entangled after a tussle with another Bald Eagle on October 31st, this Bald Eagle was successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild on December 13th.




The good folks at the Wildlife Center of Virginia successfully rehabbed Bald Eagle #23-3788 and released him into the wild yesterday at Berkely Plantation. Very cool to see. Due to photographic incompetence I failed to capture the moment of release. Also learned that wild Bald Eagles do not like to be cuddled.

Here are the details on #23-3789

On October 31, two Bald Eagles were observed fighting one another above an area of open water in Norfolk, Virginia. After becoming entangled in mid-air, both birds fell into the water and were unable to take flight. The eagles were rescued by permitted local wildlife rehabilitator Lisa Barlow and staff at Tidewater Wildlife Rescue and were taken to Midway Veterinary Hospital for stabilizing care before being transferred to the Wildlife Center of Virginia the following day.

One of the eagles – Bald Eagle #23-3788 – was successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild at Berkeley Plantation on November 22.

The other eagle, also an adult male, was designated as Bald Eagle #23-3789 upon admission. During his intake exam, the eagle was bright, alert, and in good overall body condition. Bruising was noted on the inside of the right wing, and lacerations were seen on both feet. Staff at Midway Veterinary Hospital had previously applied sutures to two wounds on the eagle’s right hip, which were found to be clean and intact.

Radiographs did not reveal any fractures, but small amount of air was seen between the eagle’s heart and liver, and soft tissue – likely a result of the physical trauma associated with his circumstance of rescue. A lead test came back with a positive reading of 0.19 ppm lead – a subclinical level, but still able to cause significant health issues.

That same day, the veterinary team started the bird on a course of anti-inflammatory and pain medications, antibiotics, anti-parasitics to treat feather lice found on examination, and oral chelation therapy to remove the lead before placing the eagle in the Center’s indoor Hold area.

Bald Eagle #23-3789’s condition stabilized quickly, and he was moved to a small, outdoor transitional enclosure on November 3. Several repeat blood tests during the following weeks showed a drastic decline in the amount of lead within the eagle’s system, and the veterinary staff determined he was ready to transition to an outdoor flight pen on November 22 and begin a flight conditioning regimen.

On November 26, Rehabilitation Team Lead Mac noted that his “form is great in flight, wings even, legs tucked and glides often. Height/lift were good, easily able to get lift up to perches. Good feathers, quiet.”

On December 10, Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor Alex Olvera determined that his physical stamina had greatly improved, and that Bald Eagle #23-3789 was ready for life back in the wild! Bloodwork performed during routine treatment on December 4 returned within normal limits, officially clearing this eagle for release.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia was formed in 1982 to provide quality health care, often on an emergency basis, to native wildlife.

Since 1982, the Wildlife Center has:

  • treated more than 90,000 wild animals, representing more than 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • shared the lessons learned from these cases with some 1.5 million school children and adults across Virginia.
  • trained a corps of wildlife medicine practitioners, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and volunteer wildlife rehabilitators. Those who have benefited from the professional training programs offered by the Center may now be found on the cutting-edge of wildlife veterinary medicine around the world.

In 2007, the Wildlife Center received the National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation as the Conservation Organization of the Year.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.