Patient #826, the bald eagle nicknamed “Kringle”, arrived on the blustery afternoon of December 9th in a large cardboard box, taped together with duct tape. He made the journey from Ashland, Ore. to our facility in Grants Pass, Ore. in the back of Greg Hunter, Ashland Water Treatment Plant supervisor’s, truck. Greg discovered the magnificent raptor downed on a sand pit near the Reeder Reservoir near Ashland. This is a patient we don’t typically see. We receive one, maybe two bald eagles in per year.
Animal Care Technician Kendra Romero and Animal Care Team Leader Tracy Higgs examined the raptor within minutes of arrival. They conducted a variety of tests including a pain test on his feet. This involves lightly pinching his toes to see if he flinches. If the bird flinches, it can feel pain. This is a good thing in this case because it means everything is working correctly. It’s similar to when the doctor taps your knee to test your reflexes. This is how Tracy and Kendra determined one of his toes/talons was not functioning correctly. X-rays revealed his right toe was not broken, but is non-functional and that he doesn’t have any fractures anywhere on his body.
“Patient # 826 is an interesting case. We are not truly certain as to what happened. It presented in an ataxic state (very uncoordinated) head drooped and contorted and very weak. There was significant intracranial pressure and swelling around the left eye. We suspected head trauma due to some form of impact, however, there are other possible explanations that we are currently exploring,” said Tracy. “He has made some improvement over the past few days, and the swelling has considerably decreased. We are still having to assist him with eating, and his energy level is gradually returning. We are hopeful for a complete recovery but it is still very early, in what will be, long term rehab.”
We’ve consulted with Dr. Codd of Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic and have Kringle on an aggressive course of steroids, antibiotics and eye drops. Our amazing Animal Care staff are working tirelessly each day gathering up each clue to piece together this mystery of how exactly he was injured so severely and how best to move forward. It’s like CSI for wildlife. One possible scenario we are exploring is lead toxicity which we are attempting to rule out. We’ll keep you posted on Kringle’s progress and our progress in this real life wildlife CSI case.
UPDATE: Patient #14-826, the bald eagle nicknamed Kringle, passed away. We are awaiting necropsy and toxicology reports. We will keep you posted on the results.