Earlier this year the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (OWL) received a call from a volunteer working at the Delta landfill who had found an injured Bald Eagle.
Unfortunately, this is not an unusual call. Another volunteer, Martin Vassil, goes out looking for injured eagles and has rescued 70 Bald Eagles from the landfill over the years.
We sent a volunteer to pick up the injured bird, and when it arrived at the centre, we found it was a female suffering from two broken wings and a broken lower jaw.
A blood test revealed she also had elevated levels of lead in her system. With such a dreary diagnosis, the odds of a successful rehabilitation were stacked against her. However, at OWL, we always give them a chance.
The bird was lucky with the placement of the fractures, spaced just far enough from her joints that they wouldn’t interfere with her range of motion. She required specialized splints and wing wraps to help her bones heal in proper alignment, and a brace around her beak and jaw for the first few weeks. While in care she received medication to assist in pain control, and a drug to reduce the level of lead in her blood. After her wings healed well enough to test her flight, we moved her to the next step of rehab, a small flight pen, and after that a large flight area. A smooth and uneventful recovery followed until she was released back to the wild.
We are always delighted when cases are successful, but this bird was remarkably calm, determined and stoic in nature. That made it extra special to see our work pay off and have her take to the wild skies again.
Editor’s note: Nature Notes is a monthly column produced by the Delta Naturalists and their community partners. For info on monthly meetings and more see www.dncb.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/DeltaNats/.