For the Birds Radio Program: Emily's Eagle, Part I
When my friend Emily Buchanan, a Duluth bird rehabilitator, got a call on June 10 about a hurt adult Bald Eagle near Wrenshall, she set out to help. The bird had a week old injury to the right wrist, a chunk of feathers missing from the base of the top of his beak which had scabbed over, and a large wound near his left leg covered in dried blood. He was also severely emaciated and dehydrated. Interestingly, he was wearing a leg band. Emily brought him directly to the nearest vet and administered fluids. When she placed him back in the cage after the fluids, he wasn’t standing anymore. Based on the wrist injury and the severe emaciation and dehydration, Emily believed he would need to be euthanasized and called the Raptor Center. The clinician there wanted x-rays of the wrist before they made a final decision. So she flushed his wounds as best she could and set him up in a kennel with thick blankets. He was still not standing. Four hours later she gave him another round of fluids, hand fed him some clean chicken breast which he ate heartily, and again flushed his wounds.
In the meantime, Emily called Hawk Ridge’s own Dave Evans for information on the band the eagle was wearing. When she read the band number to him, Dave thought it sounded familiar, and there it was, in his own records. The eagle had been banded by Dave himself as a nestling on June 4, 1990 just south of Gordon, WI, so it was 18 years old! Dave’s records also showed that one of the eagle’s nestmates had been sent to Tennessee. In all Emily’s years of rehab, taking care of a good number of eagles, she had never before known the history of one of them.
The next morning she fed him, flushed his wounds, and gave him more fluids before transporting him to the Garrison Animal Hospital in Garrison, MN. Dr. Deb Eskedahl, Emily’s supervising mentor throughout all her years of rehab, did x-rays with Emily right away to determine the injuries to the wrist. There was only soft tissue damage to the wrist, so as the Raptor Center had hoped, the eagle has a chance for recovery! Emily and Deb went to work cleaning the wounds, removing countless maggots from the wrist injury, and again rehydrating this eagle. The x-rays were emailed to the Raptor Center and now he will be transported to them for continued care with the hope of releasing him back to the wild.
The Wisconsin DNR’s Mike Myers told Emily that this individual eagle was one of the first sampled by Wisconsin DNR Science Services. Baby eagles were banded in their nests and a tiny sample of blood drawn to evaluate the impact of contaminants on bald eagle reproduction in the state. This research has resulted in numerous publications, and the Gordon Lake eaglet was one of the founding “data points.” Mike Myers added that “every data point we have is the result of Dave Evans having the courage and skill to climb to eagle nests to “bag” the eaglets for our sampling crew!”
Emily’s promised to stay in touch with the Raptor Center to find out how this wonderful bird fares. We’ll keep you posted.