Humboldt HY19 bald eagle

SOAR received a call on 29 December 2022 about a bald eagle in distress near Martin Marietta Quarry in Humboldt County, Iowa.

A SOAR volunteer was able to easily rescue (never a good sign) this eagle and started the transport to SOAR, arriving late that night.

Humboldt HY19 bald eagleThis juvenile (a three-year-old or HY19) was showing the typical symptoms of a lead-affected bird. A blood lead test confirmed this. This eagle’s lead levels were > 0.65 ppm. A beak depth measurement of 3.50 cm tells us this is a female. Learn about determining gender in bald eagles. At admit she only weighed 8 pounds, not enough for a female bald eagle.

This eagle was given fluids and was started on chelation medication. Calcium EDTA, or chelation medication, binds with the lead to form a compound the kidneys can excrete. This treatment is a cycle of several days of treatment followed by a period of rest from treatment. As of the end of January, she is on a rest from chelation. Another blood lead level test will done at the rest period.

SOAR knows that raptors in this condition are also likely to have internal parasites and sometimes a fungal infection. She was wormed and treated with an anti-fungal. This eagle was still not interested in eating, so a coccidia infection was suspected. This protozoa squashes the appetite. Treatment for this began at the end of January. She received a tablet form of coccidiosis treatment. Since she has no appetite, she is still being hand-fed.

After about one week of rest from chelation, treatment has started again as her blood lead level was down, but not down enough. Her appetite may be slightly better.