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Updated: Severely injured eagle succumbs to injuries

By Staff | Sep 28, 2017


The male eagle found with a badly broken wing in a canal St. James City succumbed to its injures Saturday.

Original post: ‘Guarded diagnosis’ given to injured bald eagle following surgery

An adult male eagle that was admitted to CROW Monday has been given a “guarded diagnosis” due to the severity of its injuries.

“He is an eagle, so we decided to pull out all the stops and do everything possible. Whether or not he will be able to be released, I think again is a very guarded prognosis, but we wanted to give him every possible chance,” CROW Hospital Director Dr. Heather Barron said. “It will probably be a good six weeks before we will know if he will be releasable.”

The male mature bald eagle, most likely 5 years old, appeared to have been injured in a fight with another male for nesting territory. His injury is a badly broken right wing.

“It is that time of year where they are fighting for nesting territory and setting their nest back up,” she said.

The eagle, found in a canal in St. James City, had a fractured humerus, or arm bone. He arrived at Specialized Veterinarian Services Sunday night before being transferred to the CROW hospital the following morning.

“The bones had broken and come through the skin, so the fracture site was very heavily contaminated. We flushed and cleaned all of that. We started him on antibiotics and stabilized him,” Barron said.

The eagle also suffered from multiple puncture wounds all over his wing, which is why Barron believes he was in a fight with another eagle.

Tuesday, the eagle had surgery.

“We placed an orthopedic implant device to stabilize that fracture. We tried to clean up all the remaining soft tissue infection,” she said.

The eagle lived through the surgery and recovered from the anesthesia.

“He did very well throughout the surgery. It was a long surgery, about four hours,” Barron said, due to the complexity of the injury and the time it took to clean the contamination. “We are very lucky that we have the appropriate equipment to monitor how they are doing and to support them and that has made anesthesia a lot safer for these birds.”

Eagles are very tough birds and this one in particular still had good body condition, which is why he had surgery, she said.

“They are strong birds and it’s amazing what they can do,” Barron said.

The eagle is currently residing in the hospital until he shows signs that he’s ready to be placed in an outside flight enclosure. Barron guesses it will most likely be a couple of weeks before he can be moved.

The eagle can however go out to the flight enclosure with the pins that were used to realign the bones and the external skeletal fixator on, Barron said, but her guess is he will not be able to fly due to the injuries.

“The muscles were all torn. We had to sew all that back together. He had a lot of tendon damage and the bone itself was very dry and parts of it were dead looking,” Barron said.

Staff will continue to monitor the infection to keep it under control, as well as check the surgery site every day. Barron said they will also feed the eagle if he is not eating, manage his pain and inflammation. Staff will also make sure he has good circulation to the injured section of his wing by doing physical therapy every few days.

“If he is eating on his own he will be able to go outside a lot sooner,” Barron said.

To follow the eagle’s recovery, visit www.crowclinic.org, under featured patients.