Thursday, May 29, 2014

Harrison Bay Eaglet Injury Update

One thing about working on a golf course is that you never know what the day will bring.  Harrison Bay is usually not a boring place to work and yesterday was no exception.  After a message from one of our Harrison Bay Eagle Cam moderators about one of the eaglets not returning to the nest the previous night I went to see if it was just out of camera range and found that it was no where to be seen.

The eaglet was located by our golf course staff around noon but it was unable to fly and could only hop around on the ground. It made its way into a very thick area of blackberry bushes for shelter.  Members of our golf course maintenance staff along with Harrison Bay State Park rangers corralled the eaglet and safely placed it in a box for transport to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

The great people at the UTCVM examined the eaglet and found that no bones were broken, as was feared, but that the eaglet had multiple lacerations on its right wing and that flies had begun to lay eggs in the cuts.  The eggs were estimated to be about 12 hours old and we were told that if the eaglet had not been captured and taken to UTCVM that it would have most likely died within the next 12 hours.

The picture to the left shows the left wing of the eaglet which is not injured and is perfectly healthy.

This picture shows the injured right wing of the eaglet.  The "whitish" area around the elbow is the fly egg sacks that had been laid in the lacerations on the eaglets wing.  Also notice the swelling in the elbow and the torn feather ligaments.  It is most likely that the injury occurred in the tree while the eaglet was moving from branch to branch and once the infection took hold and the eaglet could not use its wing properly, it could not return to the nest and either slipped or fell from the tree.

We are extremely grateful to Dr. Cheryl Greenacre and everyone else at the UTCVM for taking such quick action to care for the eaglet.  They will tend to the eaglet for a few days to make sure the wounds are closed and any infection is gone. You can view the rehabilitation process at We are hoping to be able to work with the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, TN to have them rehab the eaglet in one of their large aviaries until it can successfully fly.  At that time it is our utmost desire to return it to Harrison Bay for release.

The Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project has taken on a life of its own over the years with people from around the world tuning in to see the birth and growth of the eagles.  The eagles feel like family now and we hate to see them hurting or in danger but I am glad that we have so many people willing to go out of their way to help them survive.  Thanks to all of the Bear Trace staff, the Harrison Bay State Park rangers, and the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine personnel for all your dedication and hard work.

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