VDGIF/Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam: 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in partnership with the Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC, is providing a rare glimpse into the life of two bald eagles and their offspring!

Friday, June 27, 2008

“June 26 Update”

by Dr. Dave McRuer, Director of Veterinary Medicine at the Wildlife Center of Virginia

Great news today. We decided to start exercising the eaglet's tendons by providing a perch in the enclosure. As you can see by the picture, the bird thought this was a fantastic idea and now spends many hours of the day perching and grasping the new furniture.
We are continuing to provide supportive care and the patient continues to gain weight. From a surgical standpoint, the stars are aligning and I feel comfortable to report that we should have the mass debulked within the next two weeks. This has been a long process - longer than we had intended. However, in the interest of doing the very best for this bird, we've been consulting with the very best avian surgeons. The spring/summer is a very busy time for everyone and arranging schedules and the necessary equipment to perform the surgery (laser and radio surgical instruments) has been a challenge. The downfall of waiting is that the beak may be more deviated than if the surgery took place two to three weeks ago. On the other hand, the surgery would have been more risky as the mass was still in the growth phase and the immune system was not as effective.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

“June 10th Update”

UPDATE: June 10 2008, 5pm by Dr. Dave McRuer, Director of Veterinary Medicine at the Wildlife Center of Virginia:

As the mass on the beak is shrinking in size and the eaglet's white blood cell count was lowered into the range of "normal" for an eagle, Wildlife Center veterinarians decided to remove the antibiotics from the eaglet's treatment regime. After four days, the white blood cells were rechecked; unfortunately, there was again a significant increase in the heterophils - the cells in birds that are involved in the initial defenses against bacteria. For this reason, we believe that a secondary bacterial infection is ongoing, and we have resumed our antibiotic treatment.

The eaglet continues to thrive, although it was extremely hot this past weekend with the unseasonable heat here in Waynesboro [highs in the mid to upper 90s.] To help cool the bird, we've placed a fan near the enclosure that ensures air circulation.

The patient has also gone back to not eating on his own. If the food (mice these days) is placed in his mouth, he has no issues with swallowing. However, the bird lacks initiative to open his mouth and actually take the food. Daily weight continues to increase, and a new dosage of pain medications is being considered.

We are close to finalizing surgery for the patient and we are hoping to nail down the date by the end of the week. There have been lots of consults with some of the best avian surgeons in the country, and we feel privileged that the veterinary community has responded favorably. While waiting for surgery, the mass continues to shrink, and this will make the operation less risky.

Monday, June 02, 2008

“May 31st Update”

The following update was posted by Dr. Mark Ruder on the Wildlife Center of Virginia's website. The seriousness of the eaglet's conditon continues to become apparent. While many were relieved with the diagnosis of Avian Pox, the bird continues to be in very serious condition.

by Dr. Mark Ruder at the Wildlife Center of Virginia
The Bald Eaglet was originally eating well off of a chopped plate and took bits of mice from the forceps. On Thursday and Friday, however, the bird began to occasionally refuse to eat. Today, the bird refused to eat anything off of a chopped plate OR from the forceps and was force-fed at each meal. These force-feedings are not going to help in our attempt to minimize stress for the eaglet. The bird also dropped a small amount of weight, from 2.26 kg to 2.15 kg. Our goal is to increase the bird's body mass to help it withstand anesthesia.
No big change in the lesion, although it is difficult to objectively evaluate its growth. If anything, it is slightly larger than yesterday, especially on the underside of the beak (within the oral cavity). Today was the first full day of interferon therapy, which we hope will stop the growth of the lesion.