Bald Eagles are majestic creatures, stunning and awesome in flight. People often stop what they are doing to watch them, or point out an eagle gracefully perched high on a tree branch. Imagine how difficult it would be to find such a beautiful animal on the ground, unable to move.
In February, PAWS Wildlife Center received a call from Useless Bay Animal Clinic asking if we could take in a Bald Eagle found unconscious near Lagoon Point on Whidbey Island. After an overnight stay at the clinic, the 12-pound, four-year-old raptor was transferred to our wildlife rehabilitation center and hospital.
On arrival, the eagle was awake, but was in such poor condition she was unable to stand or even lift her head. Wildlife Rehabilitator Stephanie Herman immediately gave the eagle supportive care of fluids and vitamins.
After ruling out injuries and illness, the veterinary team determined that secondary barbiturate poisoning was the most likely cause of the eagle's severely weakened state. This can happen when an eagle, or other raptor, eats the remains of an animal who was euthanized and not properly buried. PAWS immediately alerted state wildlife officers in Island County in case any other sick raptors were discovered in the area. Luckily, it appeared no others had been affected.
After four days of careful rehabilitation and medical treatment, the eagle in our care gradually regained both her senses and her strength. After spending some time in the flight pen to spread her wings, she was ready to return to the wild.
In a park overlooking Puget Sound, Stephanie did the honors of setting the eagle free. She opened the carrier door and the Bald Eagle flew off with the strength and confidence that is intrinsic to her species.