The severely injured eagle that was brought to the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood in October has recovered fully and was released near Tacoma last weekend. Dr. John Huckabee, a PAWS wildlife veterinarian, performed several operations on the bird and said it was a close call whether the eagle would survive what appeared to be a collision with an automobile.
Q: What were the bird’s injuries?
A: He had multiple injuries, including some problems with the beak. The right eye had a very deep ulceration. There was damage to the cornea — it was eroding away. There was potential for the eye to rupture. There were also multiple abrasions down the head and neck. There was a wound to (the) wing web of the right wing. The skin that extends between the shoulder and the wrist that forms the bulk of the lift surface that allows the bird to fly was damaged.
Q: When he came in, what chance did he have?
A: He had a very guarded prognosis. The limiting injuries that the bird had were the right eye, with the beak and the right wing. Each of those injuries, had they been more severe, or if we had not been able to successfully treat them, would have resulted in the bird not being able to be released.
Q: How did you treat him?
A: We treated all of the injuries and problems individually. For some of the head and beak wounds, we had to treat them surgically. For the eye, we found that there was foreign body in it that was causing irritation. We had to treat the eye multiple times a day for probably two to three weeks in order to allow it to heal. The wing injury was one we were able to manage just by treating the wound and allowing the bird to heal.
Q: At what point did you realize that he was ready to be released?
A: When his ability to fly was deemed very good. He had good stamina. He started to be a more typical eagle in that he was beginning to cause damage to himself just trying to get away. He was ready to go back into the wild. Captivity is not a good place for a wild animal.
Q: You released him Saturday back at the same place where he was found. How did that go?
A: He looked around for just a moment, and then he started to fly up and away. He flew around in the immediate area for a few minutes, and then he flew off to the east out of sight. It was incredible.
Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.