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Eagle dies from injuries

By Staff | Oct 2, 2017

An adult male eagle that was admitted to CROW a week ago died Saturday night due to the severity of its injuries.

CROW Hospital Director Dr. Heather Barron said they decided to pull out all the stops and do everything possible when he first arrived Monday, Sept. 25 because he was a bald eagle. A day later she gave a very guarded prognosis.

The male mature bald eagle, most likely 5 years old, looked like he got into a fight with another male bald eagle for nesting territory, due to his badly injured right wing.

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

The bald eagle, found in a canal in St. James City, had a fractured humerus, or arm bone. He arrived at Specialized Veterinarian Services the night of Sunday, Sept. 24 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 when he first arrived.

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, Sept. 26 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, she said are very tough birds, and this one in particular still had good body condition, which is why he had surgery.

“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 was he would 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.

Following the surgery, 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.