Sunday, April 18, 2010

Immature bald eagle hit by truck

This young bird came to us from the Anchorage landfill. There's easy picking for these guys when food is being a little hard to get. With all of the heavy equipment operating there, it's not the safest place for them to feed or hunt. This guy got hit by a truck. The accident banged him up pretty good. He got a cracked beak and a broken left humerus. Cindy fixed his beak right away, but he had to wait a day or so before his wing was repaired. He needed an operation.
Most operations are done after hours. That's when there's less traffic and interruptions. It's also when we can borrow some tools and equipment from Pet Stop, a local veterinary clinic where Dr. Todd Palmatier works. Most things we have available at Bird TLC, but some of the more expensive equipment we don't.
Not that long ago we had to take these birds elsewhere to operate on them. But with generous donations of equipment, there's not much we can't perform at TLC. X-ray's are the only thing we can't that I can think of off hand. Just preparing a room for the equipment is expensive. Both Pet Stop and PET ER help out with the x-ray's.
Here 4 stainless steel pins were placed in this guys humerus. They will be removed after the bone heals. Todd is putting on the bird what is called an external fixitor. The pins protrude through the birds bones and sticks out through the skin.

An epoxy putty is then mixed up. It's very flexible for about 3-5 minutes and then it dries really hard. It's placed on the pins to keep them from traveling up, down or all around during the healing process.

When the bones has healed, the putty can be broken off with wire cutters and the pins removed with out having to cut into the bird again.

The wing is now wrapped up to protect it from the bird, the bird from it and to hold the wing in position until it heals. Todd then uses a laser treatment to help the healing process.

As of the last report I got, the bird is standing and eating on it's own. X-rays will be taken in a couple weeks to make sure the bone has healed and the fixitor is removed.



For more photographs of the operation (a little bloody), go to the Bird TLC SmugMug operations gallery.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Setbacks for surviving eagle in death spiral

The surviving eagle from the death spiral in Valdez is being monitored for severe head trauma.

Andrea Gusty / KTVA Channell 11 News


ANCHORAGE, Alaska—The surviving eagle from the death spiral in Valdez is being monitored for severe head trauma.

In what experts believe to be a mating ritual gone wrong in Valdez, the female locked talons with a male mid-air, then both spiraled to the ground crashing head first.

The male died on impact.

The female eagle has been recovering at Bird Treatment and Learning Center but after making progress all week, yesterday she suffered a set back.

Staffers say the eagle got stuck after falling on her back while in her cage.

Given her injuries, experts say the incident is likely an affect of head trauma.

She's made it a long ways already from where she was when she started, but just like with any head trauma, even in humans, it can take a little more time even after you are up walking around. You may still have dizzy spells and I think that may be what we are experiencing with her,” said Cindy Palmatier Director of Avian Care.

Staff at Bird TLC will continue to monitor the eagle for head trauma and ligament damage in her wing.

If she can be released back into the wild, experts want to bring the eagle home to Valdez, otherwise the eagle will spend the rest of her life in a zoo or educational center.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Aerial courting goes awry for bald eagles

Two bald eagles crash into the ground leaving one dead and the other seriously injured after misjudging the distance during what experts believe was a mating ritual.

Andrea Gusty / KTVA Channel 11 News



ANCHORAGE, Alaska—It's a case of aerial courting gone awry that has one Anchorage facility helping an injured bald eagle recover.

The Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage works to help 800 injured birds recover each year—about 50 of those are eagles.

Usually when an injured animal comes to the center, workers must piece together what they think happened based on the injuries.

The case of this particular bald eagle is so unique in that experts know what happened and are able to use that information to help her recover.




The female eagle's ordeal began a few days ago in Valdez in what experts believe to be a mating ritual.

During their peculiar courtship, male and female eagles will lock talons mid-air as they both spiral towards the ground.

In this particular case, "they misjudged the distance to the ground and crashed. One was dead at the scene and the other one was really embedded in the snow,” said Cindy Palmatier Director of Avian Care.

The surviving female was transported to a vet, then to Bird TLC in Anchorage and is now on the long road to recovery.

"The one thing that we are concerned about is when she hit and went into the snow, the wings were pulled this direction really really hard as she broke through the crust, so we are definitely concerned about shoulder damage and the ability to carry the wings appropriately,” said Palmatier.




I don't feel anything broken and the vet in Valdez didn't feel anything broken, but she is definitely not holding them as well as she could.”

Palmatier and her staff will continue to monitor the eagle for head trauma and ligament damage in her wing.

If she can be released back into the wild, experts want to bring the eagle home to Valdez where she will likely find a new mate.

Otherwise, the eagle will spend the rest of her life in a zoo or educational center.


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“I'm pretty confident she'll live now. But, releasable or not…I don't know yet,” said Palmatier.

Experts will decide what her future will be as the eagle recovers over the next couple of weeks.

1st 2 photos courtesy of Robert Benda, Valdez, AK
2nd 2 photo's Dave Dorsey / Bird TLC