Saturday, December 16, 2006



A bald eagle found in Frederick County on Thanksgiving had been trying to survive in the wild with a broken wing for nearly two weeks. Now, veterinarians and wildlife caretakers in two counties are trying to heal the bird.


WESTMINSTER — A bald eagle with a broken wing has covered a lot of ground the past two weeks. After being found in Frederick County on Thanksgiving, the eagle journeyed to two more counties as veterinarians and wildlife caretakers have worked to heal him. On Thursday, he was placed in an intensive care unit at Feathers, Scales and Tails Veterinary Hospital in Westminster. The eagle is suffering with urinary stones and might have a fungal infection in his respiratory system, said Dr. Thomas Ryan of Feathers, Scales and Tails. He hopes blood tests will help determine what caused the eagle’s initial injuries as well as its current health concerns. When he is fully recovered, the eagle will make a journey to Allegheny County to live at an aviary in Rocky Gap State Park. The eagle was found on a farm near Point of Rocks, said Officer First Class M. Graham of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police. “We don’t know how it got hurt,” he said. The people who found the eagle contacted the Natural Resources Police and helped get him into a large dog crate for transport to Opossum Pike Veterinary Clinic in Frederick, Officer Graham said. X-rays at the clinic revealed the ends of the eagle’s humerus — the bone that runs between the shoulder and the elbow — were separated about two inches, said Dr. Barbara Stastny. While that is a common fracture for birds, she was startled to realize the injury probably took place about two weeks earlier. “He had been surviving out there and trying to fly,” Dr. Stastny said. Dr. Stastny and her staff installed a pin to align the bone and stabilize it, she said. However, the location of the fracture and damage to surrounding tissue will permanently ground the eagle. “He won’t be able to fly again well enough to be able to hunt,” she said. After his surgery, the eagle was sent to recuperate at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Patapsco Valley State Park near Ellicott City. He weighed eight pounds, about four pounds less than he should have, when he arrived, said Cristi Mills, a park service associate at Soldiers Delight. He measures about 2 and 1/2 feet tall and should weigh closer to 12 pounds. The eagle’s age is unknown but his white head indicates he is at least 5 years old. On Thursday, Ms. Mills noticed the eagle still couldn’t perch and he allowed her to hold him. “I was cradling him (Friday) morning and you can’t do that with eagles,” Ms. Mills said. “That told me something was wrong with him and he had to go to the vet immediately.” He will return temporarily to Soldiers Delight after he is released from the Feathers, Scales and Tails clinic before heading to Allegheny County, Ms. Mills said. “We are doing everything we can to get him back to bald eagle health,” she said. Eventually, the eagle will join the DNR Scales and Tales program, which introduces people to wildlife and promotes stewardship of natural resources, she said. Although people are bound to get attached to him, the eagle will forever remain nameless. DNR doesn’t permit any wild animals in its care to be named, Ms. Mills said. “If we name them, it gives people the wrong idea,” she said. “They are not pets.”

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