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Lead-poisoned Bald Eagle reaches recovery milestone

Posted by thunsdorfer at Aug 01, 2013 11:55 AM |

Aug. 1, 2013: The lead-poisoned Bald Eagle who has been in our care since May recently reached a major milestone – the amount of lead in its blood dropped below 10 micrograms per deciliter, our cutoff point for whether or not a raptor needs to be treated for lead.

Lead-poisoned Bald Eagle reaches recovery milestone

Bald Eagle in one of Portland Audubon's off-site flight cages - Lacy Campbell

The lead-poisoned Bald Eagle who has been in our care since May recently reached a major milestone – the amount of lead in its blood dropped below 10 micrograms per deciliter, our cutoff point for whether or not a raptor needs to be treated for lead exposure. The eagle’s body will be able to flush out the rest of the lead without assistance.

Now that the bird no longer needs regular doses of medication, we’ve moved it to one of Portland Audubon’s off-site flight cages. A bird of this size needs a lot of room to fly, so living in the flight cage will allow the eagle to build up its atrophied flight muscles.

This shift in location also gives Portland Audubon staff the chance to closely observe the eagle’s behavior in a setting that resembles the wild. While signs seem favorable, the eagle’s exposure to lead may have lingering effects that impact its mental faculties.

The good news is not only have the eagle’s lead levels dropped significantly, but the bird is also flying beautifully and has a healthy appetite. The nine-pound eagle can eat two pounds of salmon in a day.

The eagle likely developed lead poisoning after eating the remains of an animal shot with lead ammunition, ingesting fragments of ammunition along with the carcass. Not only did it have high levels of lead in its blood, but an X-ray revealed metal in the bird’s stomach. Learn more about how care center staff rescued, diagnosed and treated the eagle.

Bald Eagle exam, July 2013 - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
The Bald Eagle receives an exam before being moved to an off-site flight cage - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Bald Eagle exam, group, July 2013 - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
The Bald Eagle receives an exam before being moved to an off-site flight cage - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
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