For some animals, a stay at PAWS Wildlife Center lasts only a few weeks. For others, the road back to the wild is longer and far more difficult. In the case of patient #11-1388, it’s been a long journey. After eight months in care, PAWS wildlife staff is ever hopeful we can return this majestic raptor back to the skies.
Take a look inside this story from our veterinarian’s perspective, and see exactly how your support saves lives. For a patient who continues to improve and shows the spirit to survive, we provide the patience and care to help them do just that.
June 28, 2011 A Bald Eagle was admitted to PAWS Wildlife Clinic today. The male Bald Eagle is weak, laying on his side and unable to right himself to perch. When the eagle was upright, he would often sit back on his hocks. Initial evaluation suggests the eagle may have fl own into an object, such as a door or a window.
A tracking band on the eagle indicates he was hatched in Richmond Beach, WA, and is 16 years old. Bald eagles can survive for up to 28 years in the wild and have been known to survive for 38 years in captivity. Our initial thoughts for the cause of this eagle’s maladies are either neurologic trauma or perhaps lead poisoning, a common syndrome seen in eagles due to lead shotgun pellets or bullets.
June 29, 2011 A series of X-rays taken today reveal no fractures, nor any lead shot. This eagle hasn’t been shot, as an analysis of the blood indicates normal blood lead levels. All indications now support our initial diagnosis of muscle trauma. We continue to rest the eagle and closely monitor his condition.
July 4, 2011 The eagle is now starting to regain strength. He’s perching and acting more aggressive, which is normal for an adult eagle. He remains slightly uncoordinated, and one of the wings seems to be drooping when the wings are folded next to the body, confirming our suspicion of trauma to that wing.
July 12, 2011 We now suspect there’s a soft tissue injury (tendon, ligament or muscle) to the left elbow and wrist, but I’m hopeful that with time and mild exercise the injury will improve. Today we shot a high definition video of the eagle’s flight in hopes of better assessing the eagle’s wing injury. The video shows asymmetric flight, with a significant delay in the upward movement of the left wing in relation to the right wing. While the eagle can fl y, it’s not likely he could fl y well enough to catch food and also defend a breeding territory.
November 23, 2011 Today we transport the eagle to a local veterinary facility for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) diagnostic procedure to help us get a better handle on the location of the injury. MRIs are commonly utilized in human medicine but are still fairly rare in veterinary medicine and almost unheard of in wildlife medicine. They are ideal diagnostics to detect soft tissue trauma to tendons, ligaments, muscles or nervous tissue. The MRI results show inflamed tendons and ligaments in the area of the left elbow and wasting of the muscles in the left wing and pectoral region.
December 20, 2012 The eagle begins a series of Cold Laser treatments. This therapy is often used in human and veterinary medicine to treat soft tissue injuries. The laser treatment utilizes certain light wavelengths to decrease pain and stimulate healing by modifying, or “encouraging,” the release of inflammatory proteins.
March 10, 2012 The Eagle is showing progress as he spends his nights in a “soft pen” lined with bed sheets, designed to protect him from re-injuring his wing. We continue to monitor his condition and hope for the best.
Above: This Bald Eagle has spent almost a year in veterinary care at the PAWS Wildlife Center.