Bald Eagle Lindy
Great Horned Owl
We admitted this gorgeous Great Horned Owl recently with severe bruising on one wing and pain in the other wing. In the photos you can see the extensive bruising, which in birds is green in color. It is not clear how the bruising happened, but we suspect the wing became caught in something or hit something at high speed. We are managing her pain and allowing her to rest and heal. We are calling her “Autumn” to fit the season.
Bald Eagle from Minong
Bald Eagle from Minong, hit by a car as he came off of a deer carcass. This Eagle’s spinal injury has left him with limited use of his legs. Time and medications may help him recover.
Thanks to Dennis and Sue for immediately rescuing him after the accident.
Please pull roadkill as far off of roads as you can when you see it.
Please donate to help pay for this Eagle’s care!
Leadfoot out in a flight pen, enjoying sunshine and more space!
This girl has survived so much. She was rescued last Feb in a snowy ditch where she was dying of lead poisoning.
She survived treatment for lead, frostbite to several toes, and a long persistent sinus infection. Her sinus infection caused her to bleed from her nose over and over, defying treatment with oral medications.
Leadfoot’s gentle nature allowed our veterinarian to build a trust bond with her that ultimately saved her life. She allowed Dr Ammann to squirt medicated drops up into her nares every day for 6 weeks. The goal was to put the medication right into the sinuses where the infection was hiding.
Slowly, day by day, the congestion cleared and the bleeding from her nares stopped.
Every day, even though she didn’t like it, she tolerated a small tube inserted into each nare to deliver the drops.
It required Dr Ammann to stand next to her, look at her closely, and treat her. No one restrained her. She never tried to bite or flee. She is an amazing bird who allowed a human being to touch her bare handed every day.
We are so proud of her progress. Hope you have enjoyed hearing her story. More updates to come!
This majestic male Snowy Owl was admitted after hanging around in a yard for several days, perched on a wood pile but not very active. He was easily captured and then transported to our hospital. He was weak and had several infections that were preventing him from hunting and eating.
After treating his infections, he spent time strengthening in our recovery facility. At first he just perched all day. With good food and time, he returned to a healthy condition and was ready to release.
We found a farm setting with open fields for hunting and a flowing stream for the release. This species of owls is a tundra bird, used to wide open spaces with minimal vegetation, so farm fields with access to rodents is ideal for them. He gained his winged freedom that day, healthy and ready to fend for himself.
Adult Bald Eagle
This Bald Eagle was admitted with a fractured leg, the result of a collision with a moving vehicle. Eagles commonly feed on dead animals they find on loadsides, and when spooked by oncoming cars they may fly across the road and be struck. It is a good reminder to us to try to pull these carcasses as far away from the road edge as possible when we come upon them.
A fracture like this would be life ending for a bird in the wild without care. It would never heal in proper alignment and this bird would be unable to hunt to eat. Surgery by our veterinarian successfully aligned the bone with the pins and metal bar that can be seen in the photo.
It takes about 4-6 weeks for most broken bones to heal, if no complications arise.
During that time, the eagle needs to stay quiet, which means no flying. We accomplish this by housing the bird in a large room with low stumps and log perches, but no room to fly. They tolerate this quite well. After xrays to confirm the fracture is healed, the pins are removed and the bird is allowed to start moving around more, eventually flying and being exercised to get ready to release. This bird was successfully released!
This young Barred Owl was found with an injured wing. The xray showed that one large wing bone was broken into numerous pieces. This bird would never be able to survive this injury without help. Our veterinarian, Dr Kim Ammann, placed a series of pins to realign the bone and stabilize it in this position.
Named by a family member, Makani (Hawaiian for Wind) was housed in our recovery building for 4 weeks while the bone ends mended. After the first week, we encouraged Makani to use the wing for light activity in order to keep the joints moving and the muscles working. When xrays confirmed the wing was healed, the pins were removed and he was put on a program of increasing activity.
When Makani was flying on his own, we began creance flying him to increase strength and endurance. This involves attaching him to a light line and flying him in an open field repeatedly. This is a proven way to strengthen a raptor for release.
Makani was released at a quiet riverside setting with lots of trees for cover and open lawns and fields for hunting. He had earned his winged freedom!He was spotted numerous times after his release, doing well on his own.
Juvenile Barred Owl
Sometimes young raptors need care that their parents are unable to provide. This juvenile barred owl was found on the ground after leaving the nest but was not moving out of the sun or attempting to find a low perch. The landowners called Winged Freedom and we discussed the best course of action. Based on the behavior of the bird over some time, we intervened and investigated the baby’s condition.
Named Ollie by the group who found him, this baby was too young to be on his own. He had a bad infection that caused him difficulty eating, and he was slowing starving. The infection was treated and he was started on a nutritious Iiquid diet. As he improved he started to accept pieces of mice, his normal diet, and eventually he learned to feed himself.
Release for Ollie was done in a method called hacking. Since Ollie had no hunting skills other than instinct, he was released in a wooded area where a feeding platform was placed. Ollie was loose to come and go, but could rely on a snack at his feeding site to help supplement what he hunted on his own. This helps to provide the food that his owl parents would be providing for him while he perfected his skills.
We saw Ollie often, and then eventually he no longer showed up for meals. We were happy that he had a second chance to grow up!
Mature Bald Eagle with Wing Fracture
Meet Gidget, named for impaling herself on a finger (a digit!) for an hour until our volunteer could pry her talons off!
Gidget was likely fighting an aerial battle, probably over territory, with another eagle. She was in a deeply wooded area where a landowner happened to find her laying, and it was when he tried to help her that he became
impaled by her talon.
Gidget had broken her humerus, the large bone between the shoulder and elbow of the bird. Our veterinarian, Dr Kim Ammann, placed pins to stabilize the bone so that it could heal in the proper alignment. It was at the time of her surgery that it was noted that she had a brood patch, an area of her belly that she plucked bare to allow her body heat to be shared with incubating eggs and newly hatched young eaglets. Gidget was a mom. We were unable to do anything about this situation, since we the closest nest was over a mile away and we did not know for sure where she came from. Gidget tolerated a week on cage rest, then several weeks in a recovery room where she could not fly but could move around and keep the wing limber. Eventually, xrays showed a healed bone and the pins were removed.
Gidget was allowed a gradual increase in activity and space, and when she was strong enough she was flown on a creance line. This technique attaches the bird to a strong but lightweight line to allow her to take off and fly, then gently return to the ground at the end of the line. She improved so well that she was able to be released back to the area where we assumed her nest was located. She was free once again!
Eagle Physical Therapy
This poor eaglet found itself hooked on a fishing lure, probably from a fish that an adult eagle brought to the nest to feed him and his sibling eaglet. When he was discovered, he was on the ground near the base of the nest tree, and the lure was hooked through one toe and attached to his lower beak. So he had to stand with his head pulled down, or with his foot in the air at all times. He was going to die like this.
A neighbor found the eaglet in this condition and called us for help. We were able to cut the lure off of his beak, but the barb embedded in the toe required surgery to remove.
The eaglet was transported back to Winged Freedom for surgery the next morning, and the baby was treated with antibiotics for the infection that had already set in.
He was a hungry guy, and was treated to ample portions of good food, including fish and red meat to help him strengthen and heal. The lake residents caught fresh fish for us and kept up with his progress online. About 3 weeks later, we returned to the nest site, located at the shoreline of the lake, and found the adults and other eaglet still there.
Our eaglet was released and he joined the family again. The lake residents sent us pictures of the family together, growing and fishing that summer.
Meet Wreck It Ralph, the adult Bald Eagle
We don’t name all the eagles, but sometimes when there are several patients who come in simultaneously it is helpful to be able to refer to them with more than a file number. Ralph got his name because when he was admitted our veterinarian was concerned that he was sick from lead poisoning. And the blood test that was run to measure his blood lead level was so high that our analyzer wouldn’t process the sample. The first thought was that it had broken the analyzer,
hence his name.
Ralph was very sick. He was thin, starving, and could not keep any food down. His blood was toxic with high lead values. When lead levels rise in the blood, a bird’s brain cannot function well, their muscles are weak, they are nauseated, and some birds have muscle tremors and seizures. It can cause them to be blind. Sometimes, if treated, they can recover.
Birds ingest lead when they feed on meat and other animals that they find. Eagles will take the easiest route to a meal they can find, so a dead deer in the woods, a dead fish or duck on the shoreline, a gut pile of trimmings from hunted deer, all look delicious to an eagle. But lurking in these free meals can be lead from shotgun slugs which fragment into thousands of tiny fragments when they travel through the deer, or fishing weights or lures containing lead. Ducks feed on the lake bottoms where years of lead bird shot has accumulated, and then the eagle is exposed by ingesting the dead duck.
Ralph did not survive his treatment. He got better for about a week, then quickly worsened and he was humanely euthanized. We could not watch him suffer any longer after putting up such a brave fight. Lead poisoning is never the eagle’s fault. It is always the result of something a human has done.
Wreck It Ralph
Please learn about lead free hunting and fishing equipment and think about Rarph and all of the other eagles and other scavenging birds who die every year.
Try to be part of the solution. We see these read poisoned eagles regularly, and it is heart wrenching to struggle to survive.
Do it for Ralph, and our planet. It really does matter!