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E8 released into outdoor flight enclosure at CROW

By Staff | Jun 1, 2016

The juvenile eaglet, E8, was transferred to one of CROW’s outdoor flight enclosures Wednesday, which CROW staff hopes will encourage him to eat on his own.

Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife Hospital Director Dr. Heather Barron said E8 is doing very well. His appetite is still not as good as she would like it to be, though, so they are still providing assisted feedings.

“His body weight is almost up to where it should be. Right now he weighs 3.8 kilograms and that is with 400 grams worth of metal in his body, so we will probably have a bit of weight loss once we take all the metal off. But, his body condition score is right now two out of five, and we consider ‘normal’ three out of five. He came in as a one out of five, so he is getting there. That is pretty good with him only being here a little over two weeks,” Barron said. “We are very pleased with his progress. We wish he would eat on his own.”

The eaglet has been eating such things as chicks, four different kinds of fish, rats, mice and rabbits. Barron said they are trying very hard to tempt his appetite and get him to eat on his own.

E8 is receiving anti-anxiety medication to try to help calm him, stimulating his appetite. Barron said it is always very stressful for any wild animal to be in the hospital. In addition, E8 is still on very good pain medication, showing no signs of pain; he is grooming, walking and perching normally.

“He seems to be fairly comfortable with the leg post fracture repair,” Barron said.

Although he still does not have a great appetite, E8’s blood work is becoming more normal without signs of infection.

The juvenile American bald eagle was found injured near the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam in North Fort Myers on Friday, May 13, and brought to CROW. The eaglet arrived thin, dehydrated and very weak. The initial radiographs showed a right leg femur fracture that required surgery that weekend.

“The bone is healing well,” Barron said of the right leg break. “He is using the leg very well. He is able to perch, and grip with his foot, and bear full weight on that limb.”

Due to his improved bill of health, E8 was released into an outdoor large enclosure at CROW Wednesday afternoon. This will allow him to fly. Barron hopes the move will also alleviate the stress of being in the hospital, prompting the eaglet to eat on his own.

“He still has all of his hardware on,” she said, which is very light weight.

E8 still has a pin, an intramedullary pin, in his leg that goes straight down inside of the bone. In addition, he has two pins that come out of the side of the leg that tie into the pin with an external fixator rod.

“It’s like bridging the fracture,” Barron said. “That allows the bone in the center to be able to heal.”

Early next week CROW will start a staged reduction, which means they will begin to take pieces of metal off E8 slowly.

“Over a weeks time we will destruct the external skeletal fixator,” she said.

To be released back into the wild, E8’s bone needs to be fully healed, he should be flying well, eating on his own and his weight needs to be normal. Barron said they would like to see E8 catch fish out of the pool. Live fish will be placed in the pool to see if he is capable of capturing live prey.

“His injuries were pretty severe, so the big thing is to make sure he is using that leg normally,” she said, adding that they will take him back to his nest once he is fully healed.

E8 “fledged” at nearly 14 weeks, a little later for a first flight than normal. On Feb. 8, E8 had to be rescued from its nest after it got caught, presumably by some fishing line.

CROW, LCEC and a local MasTec contractor came together, secured a bucket truck and rescued the eaglet from its entanglement and brought it to CROW for evaluation.

E8 spent three days at CROW, where it was fed, had its injured foot treated and got over a case of dehydration before it was returned to the nest.

The first weekend of May another incident occurred.

E8 and its larger, older sibling, E7, were seen resting on a branch near the nest on the Pritchett property off Bayshore Road when an owl apparently knocked both fledglings off their perch. The incident, which happened around 3:30 a.m., Saturday, May 7, was the last time E8 was seen on the Pritchett Eagle Cam. Viewers could continue to see the mother, Harriet, the father, M15, and E7 but E8 remained missing, prompting international chatter about its condition and whereabouts.

A week later, a seriously injured E8 was found in some brush and brought to CROW.

According to the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, E8 was 125 days old as of Wednesday, June 1.