provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife
Florida has one of the densest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states. An estimated 1,500 nesting pairs were recorded in 2014 compared to only 88 nests in 1973. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has monitored the populations of nesting bald eagles in Florida since 1972. In 1978, bald eagles were listed under the Endangered Species Act and were rarely seen in the lower 48 states. Eagle populations recovered once the usage of DDT, a pesticide that contributed to their decline, was banned. Although removed from the Endangered Species Act in 2007, they are still heavily protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act.
Most of Florida’s breeding bald eagles, especially southern peninsula dwellers, remain in the state year-round. Sub-adult, non-breeding eagles migrate out of Florida in spring or summer and return in the fall or winter. A bald eagle in the wild has the potential to live up to 28 years. In Florida, females typically lay a clutch of one to three eggs between December and early January. Incubation can last approximately 35 days. Nestlings go through a process called “fledging” in which they learn to master the new skill of flying. As with any new skill, it is rare to get it right on the first attempt.
On February 20, a fledging bald eagle at the South Seas Resort on Captiva “fledged” the nest a little too soon as it was still unable to fly. The eagle landed safely on the ground, but in an area of heavy traffic. Worried for its safety and others, the eagle was rescued and admitted to CROW for rehabilitation. Our veterinarians found the eagle to be in great health. To prevent the same scenario from occurring a second time, the eagle would stay in care until it learned to use its wings in the safety of a large, outdoor flight enclosure. Three days later, the eagle began to make strong flights around the enclosure and was able to gain enough lift to fly back up to the nest. Early on February 23, the eagle was successfully released near its nest and back to its parents.
On February 22, a day before the fledging was released, an adult bald eagle was admitted after it was found in the water and brought to the Punta Rassa boat ramp. Upon initial examination, veterinarians found swelling and severe bruising on the left wing, likely a result of blunt trauma. Radiographs showed no broken bones in the wing; however, an old, healed fracture was observed in the right leg. Although the bone healed poorly aligned, it was stable and well formed- a testament to their resiliency in the wild. The next day, the patient was moved to an outdoor enclosure to monitor flight abilities. Veterinarians noted that they will recheck the swelling and bruising in three days time.
THIS WEEK AT CROW (02/20-02/26):
There were 31 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including four mourning doves, two North American river otters, five double-crested cormorants, six royal terns, two eastern screech owls, two Virginia opposums, an osprey and a Northern gannet. Recent Releases include four Northern raccoons, three brown pelicans, a sanderling and an Eastern screech owl. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases! Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year! Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.
About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond. Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to http://www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.