Photos by J. Bray and M. Alverson
On July 13, 2020, a young bald eagle was admitted to RAPTOR Incorporated’s Rehabilitation Center from a gravel quarry in Lynchburg, OH. The eagle was brought in by Randy Morgan, ODNR’s Indian Creek Wildlife Area Manager, and Fallsville Wildlife Area Staff. On exam, the eagle was found to be suffering from an open humeral fracture of the left wing near the shoulder, and an infestation of ectoparasites (parasites that live on the outside of the body, such as fleas). The bird was treated with fluids, antiparasitic medications, wound care and immobilization of the wing.
The next morning the eagle was seen by Dr. Peter Hill at PetCare Animal Hospital. His exam confirmed a left humeral spiral comminuted wing fracture with 2 large floating bone chips. Surgery was immediately performed, where an intramedullary (IM) pin and wires were placed to stabilize the fractures. The wound was sutured closed and the bird was given antibiotics and pain medication. Oral antibiotics were continued for 10 days.
On August 4th, the eagle was seen by Dr. Hill for a recheck. The fracture site was stable and the stitches were removed. The eagle was cleared to go outside to a small enclosure to limit mobility for 1 week. On September 1st, the eagle was seen by Dr. Hill for a 2nd and final recheck. The IM pin was removed and X-rays confirmed the fracture had healed nicely. The eagle was given medications for pain and inflammation and moved to the large L-shaped flight enclosure for conditioning. Available perching was kept low to prevent a possible re-injury. One week later, the eagle was seen using a stick to climb up to a 5-foot perch. On camera, the injured wing looked droopy, so the eagle was re-examined. The fracture site was stable and the feathers that were dropped at the injury site were confirmed to be coming in.
On September 16th, the eagle was seen on camera taking short flights from the ground to a 5-foot perch, so the 13-foot perches were raised in the enclosure to encourage the eagle to exercise. A few weeks later the eagle was seen on a 13-foot perch, and on October 14th it was flying the entire length of the large L-shaped enclosure perch to perch!
On November 1st, the young bald eagle was released into its home territory by Alice McCaleb, with 13 witnesses in attendance, including several representatives from RAPTOR Incorporated and county and state wildlife agencies. The eagle flew strongly into the high winds, circled above the release site then headed out over the small nearby lakes toward a large stand of trees. Thanks to the wonderful dedication and collaboration between ODNR, RAPTOR Inc., and Dr. Hill, this magnificent bald eagle gets a second chance to live wild and free!