08172016 Bald Eagle, immature

Location of Rescue: 
Madison-Grant High School
Admission Date: 
Cause of Admission: 
malnourished, possibly due to poorly healed leg fracture
UPDATE: 11/11/2018 - This immature eagle was successfully released in front of an estimated crowd of between 500 - 800 people. It was a beautiful day and a great tribute to our veterans on this Veteran’s day! Fly free lady eagle, fly free!

I received a call from District 4 Corporal Kilgore on a possible eagle down at Madison-Grant High School. I pulled up to see the Corporal walking back from the bean field. He'd just circled around to keep the bird from going in any further. It was now setting on the edge of the bean field and a large open field at the school. We circled around the bird to come at it from two sides, realizing It was flighted and able to avoid capture, so we had to get creative. After several unsuccessful attempts, the bird had flown and landed. It was during its time on the ground that I noticed it had an obvious injury in its leg, which meant it wouldn't survive too long without being able to catch its food. I was around 15 feet from the bird and decided to turn sideways and sidestep my way to it, trying to get close enough to toss a blanket over it. After I had taken a couple slow steps towards the bird, the bird turned and was taking sidesteps away from me! Imagine, I was line-dancing with an immature bald eagle. All we lacked was the music. It eventually took off again, and landed near a stand of cedar trees close to the highway. I asked the conservation officer run to the other end of the field to retrieve his vehicle, to pull around and come in at an angle to force the bird away from the highway. Once the bird started moving, a lightbulb went off. I motioned the CO to try to push it into the cedar grove where I knew the bird wouldn't be able to take flight. Once the bird moved into the cedars, we quickly assessed the situation. Luckily, there was a chainlink fence that ran behind the stand of trees. The officer went in from the east to keep the bird from heading out along the fence, while he directed me of the locations of the moving bird. I made several entries into the thick, dead low branches. Finally, I made a mad rush into the branches and back to the fence where I was able to secure the bird. Once I was able to secure the feet and wings, I backed my way out of the trees in order not to cause any further damage to the big guy. We made our way to my vehicle where we placed the bird into a plastic tote. I He'd been down and hadn't eaten for a while. He received initial care tonight at Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehab.


Medical report:  An immature bald eagle was presented August 17.  He was very thin and lethargic.  There was an old fracture of his left tibia.  The fracture is healed, but at a bad angle.  He was treated with subcutaneous fluids and tube feeding.  He will be given a few days to gain strength before further evaluation of his fracture is done.


Date of update pending.
He is eating almost a pound and a half of food a day!  He walks up a ramp and is perching but he limos due to the angle his broken leg healed at. X- rays have been taken and will be sent to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for evaluation.

He is eating very well and has been placed in a small flight pen.  He can walk, but with a significant limp and altered gait.  

He is finally getting his fill of food! He was extremely thin when he came in and had been eating 1.4 pounds of food a day (typical is 0.7-1.0 pounds per day). He has just begun leaving some of his food! He is still limping, but it unsure if it is due to pain or due to the odd angle the leg healed at.

We are awaiting recommendations from the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota.

This eagle was just hatched spring of 2016 and we rescued him in August of 2016. Since we do not know if he could hunt on his own, it is recommended to release him where there are a lot of adult eagles so it will learn to hunt from them.  We are fortunate that in Indiana we have what is thought to be the largest eagle roost east of the Mississippi River.  (An eagle roost is where eagles come down from the north in the winter so they can find open, not frozen, water to fish in.). The plan was to release him there in February, but due to some new problems, he will not be released soon. 

Unfortunately this eagle has developed some feather problems and will not be released for awhile.

We are still waiting on this eagle to replace some damaged flight feathers.

He is very active and enjoys catching live bluegill in his pool!  (If you like to fish, we can always use more fish for our eagles!)  We are still waiting on him to replace damaged feathers so he can be released.

Still waiting for feathers to be replaced!  She is doing well otherwise.

He is finally molting!  This bird has many feathers on both wings that are in poor shape due to feather mite damage.  This bird had been banging up both of his wrists. This was causing constant bleeding wounds.  To combat this, bumpers were placed on both wrists.  A bumper is just a fancy term for a bandage.  He has been doing great with the bumpers.  Once his new feathers come in we will begin creance flying. 

We hope to release this baby by the end of January!  We are imping her feathers in a couple days then will begin creance flying her.

Getting her ready for release - since she had many damaged flight feathers we had to replace or "imp" her flight feathers.  This is a process in which we cut the damaged feathers off 3" or so away from her wing and attach the exact feather from a deceased eagle.  We use bamboo skewers and whittle them until they fit snugly inside the shaft of the portion of the feather on the eagle and the new feather. Then we use epoxy glue to glue them into place.  This was a very time intensive project since we replaced over 20 feathers on this bird!  The eagle had to be under anesthesia for over 3 hours for this procedure, even though we had 8 volunteers working!  So it took a total of over 25 volunteer hours just to imp this bird!

So the next step in getting her ready for release is to get her flight muscles in top condition so she can hunt well in the wild.  We do this by creance flying.  This involves putting leather anklets on her, attaching them to a long line and letting her fly to the end of the line.  We then pick her up and repeat until she is tired.  The day after she was imped she began her conditioning, and she flew 40 times before she was tired!  This took another 20 volunteer hours to accomplish this!  

So you can see, getting this eagle ready for release is a very time intensive endeavor!  But we hope to have her ready for release at the end of January.  Stay tuned and we will announce her release information so you can watch her release!  

After a successful imping process, this eagle was creance flown to test her new feathers, and flew 40 times before she was tired!  

This eagle improves every week. She continues to take 1⁄2 to a full line every time.  She
is very feisty!  She needs more time to improve her flight.  Ideally, we would like to see her take a full line
with every flight.

Despite being creance flown twice weekly, this eagle is still not flying well enough that we feel comfortable releasing her.  We will continue her treatment.


Transferred to Illinois Raptor Center for further conditioning


Returned to Soarin' Hawk for release on 11/11/2018.

After sending this two year old eagle to the Illinois Raptor Center to use their flight pen to get her conditioned enough to be released, we are releasing her Sun., Nov. 11th  at 2:00 at Lost Bridge West at Salomonie beach in Andrews, IN.

We had tried to creance her for two years here, but she was not gaining enough strength to be released.  Illinois Raptor Center has big flight pens in which she could fly extensively. 

When she was picked up at the Raptor Center in Illinois, the people there said that it took her quite a while to get more than a few feet of the ground.  When she finally did gain some altitude, she would not make the turns in their pens.  They almost called us to come pick her up because she was still not flying well.  Finally, one day they went into the pens and found her up on a high perch, and from then on, she flew well, getting altitude and making turns.  She also gained weight, which she needed, as she was emaciated when she came to us.
Before she was released back to us, she got a nice manicure, sharpening her talons for catching prey back in the wild.

She will be released in Salamonie where pairs of mature bald eagles have been seen.







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