Written by Bryan Watts & Carla Schneider
May 6, 2009
In mid-June 2009, CCB was contacted by the Wildlife Center of Virginia about a bald eagle that had been feeding in a landfill in King & Queen County, Virginia and was found unable to fly. The eagle was captured by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and brought into the rehabilitation center. The Wildlife Center of Virginia is one of the premiere wildlife hospitals in the country and has cared for scores of injured eagles over the years. The bird had two fractures of the ulna that were well aligned and had begun to heal on their own. The Wildlife Center kept the bird for rehabilitation and to improve overall body condition.
The eagle now in adult plumage had been banded by CCB biologists in May of 2003 as a nestling along the York River. The bird was included in a study of chick growth by graduate student Catherine Markham. The chick was measured at 25 days of age and again at 41 days to estimate growth rate. The bird was among nearly 50 nestlings measured between 2002 and 2004 that contributed to what we currently know about the growth of eagle chicks in the Chesapeake Bay. The study examined the influence of salinity on diet and chick growth and determined that growth in the Chesapeake Bay is the highest of any studied eagle population across North America.
By late September the eagle had recovered enough to be released back into the wild. On 2 October, 2009, on Westover Plantation and in front of a large crowd of well-wishers, Ed Clark (president of The Wildlife Center) released the bird into a stiff wind. The bird banked and flew out over the James River.
This brood was included in a study of chick growth conducted by Catherine Markham while a graduate student at CCB under Bryan Watts. The bird treated by The Wildlife Center and released along the James River is pictured on the left.