One of our newest wild residents got her nails done! 😉 Cloud is a female bald eagle who arrived in November from a private rehabilitator in Washington. The bird was already an adult when she was found with injuries consistent with being hit by a car. That was 16 years ago so we believe Cloud is more than 21 years old. Cloud cannot fly and is blind in her left eye so her survival depends on human care. When she first arrived at Wildlife Images she went through a period of isolation and observation, before we were ready to address some of her non-emergent medical needs. This included a nail trim and beak trim. Read on to learn more about what happens behind the scene at Wildlife Images.
In the wild, raptors have a huge variety of things to perch on as they hunt and survey their territory. Here at Wildlife Images, we provide several different textures of perches but our residents tend to have their favorites. You may have noticed this with birds of prey who live near you as you see them on the same branch, outcropping of rock, or telephone pole. The limited perching tends to decrease the natural filing of their talons. To help our resident raptors we use a dremel to keep the talons in good shape. If their talons aren’t filed down they can start to split and break. After her manicure, Cloud also got a special solution applied to her feet. It’s the opposite of the lotion many of us use to soften our hands and the calluses on our feet. This substance helps the foot toughen up with calluses to prevent any punctures, cuts or abrasions and ultimately the infections that could result from them.
While Cloud was safely wrapped our animal care technicians moved from Clouds sharp talons to her sharp beak. Raptors don’t have any teeth so they rely on their sharp beaks to tear food apart. Just like talons, beaks must be worn down because they continue to grow. You can think of this just like how our fingernails grow, only this happens much more slowly. If a beak grows too much it can prevent the bird from closing its mouth completely. The technical term for this is malocclusion. Eventually, the bird would not be able to shred it’s food adequately.
It’s important to note that neither of these procedures hurt the birds. Just like trimming our fingernails or cutting our hair the bird feels no pain. As in any procedure, our animal care technicians pay close attention to an animal’s behavior during procedures to make sure the animal isn’t undergoing excessive stress. A short time after her visit to the clinic, Cloud returned to her enclosure.
Cloud is a future resident of Eagle Fight and will soon be is available for adoption. Learn more about how to support the care of resident Animal Ambassadors through our adoption program here.