Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Case of the REALLY Bald Eagle

The story below has a happy ending. It is important to know that before you start reading this blog.

(Photo: This is a REALLY Bald Eagle admitted from Lake Dubay area.)

Steve Fisher, our Environmental Education Coordinator, wears a whole lot of hats here at REGI. We tease him those odd tasks are "opportunities for personal growth." He could enjoy a rather sedate life as an educator, but we want more than that for Steve. One day last summer Steve was enjoying a day off. I called him to "check on a situation" with a Bald Eagle near Wausau. Steve and his wife Evie ended up rescuing a Bald Eagle that was flailing desperately in Lake Dubay.

( Photo: The Bald Eagle was scalped by an unknown cause. Some possibilities are tower cables or electric lines.)

The Fishers' car pulled up to the REGI clinic. I was waiting for them. From the look on Steve's face, I expected this was a difficult case. Steve's tension was obvious as he relayed information even before the box with the Bald Eagle was in the clinic. There were words like "can't figure out," "bad injury," "not sure," "something wrong with the head"...anyhow you get the picture.

I have seen many things over the many years of my work with wildlife, but I was not prepared for the sight of a "really Bald Eagle."

The eagle nearly drowned, and would have, had it not been for a few concerned fishermen with a big net who helped secure the exhausted eagle when Steve and Evie arrived.

As so often happens here at REGI, we worked fast and furious to help this patient and did not take photos when he was admitted.

( Photo: Bald Eagle " Baldy," in the clinic for a check-up, is feeling better by early fall.)

We didn't' know what to expect. The scalped area was large. We could not connect any tissue to cover the very visible skull.

He did not appear to be in pain. Maybe a headache, but nothing overt. Once he was dry, warmed and comfortable, he ate well. He seemed normal, except for the glaring lack of skin and feathers on his head.

The exposed skull was kept clean and moist. We worked with artificial skin and various other treatments and soon...the skin was granulating into the open space. The opening grew smaller. That is exactly what my husband, a retired Pathologist, said would happen. Sometimes it is good to admit when he is right.:)

( Photo: Don checks "Baldy's" head. We are all amazed at the remarkable progress.)

( Photo: Steve and the Bald Eagle he saved from certain death.)

The great news is that Baldy now has a full head of "skin" covering his scalp. He also has most of the feathers back as well. We look for his release to the wild soon. Many thanks to Steve and Evie Fisher and my great REGI team for making this horrific case a success.

REGI will be releasing several Bald Eagles into a wintering flock in mid-January along the Wisconsin River near Sauk City, WI. Baldy may well be among them. We will give more information as the time gets closer.

(A note: one thought was to euthanize this eagle on arrival. That was considered; however, unless it is an overt case of pain and agony, we have a "euthanasia committee" that discusses those options here at REGI. I like to include all angles, including those from interns and students, to make sure we are giving the bird every chance. This also allows students to feel they have a voice in this major decision and prepares them for their future as wildlife professionals. )

Have a great day everyone,
Marge Gibson © 2010

1 comment:

  1. oh. Thank you for helping this beautiful creature. I'm so glad he made it!