D33 gnat bites Admission Date: 5 June 2019
Outcome: 18 September 2019, soft-release at SOAR
Location of Rescue: near Decorah Fish Hatchery
Cause of Admission / Condition: Nest disturbance / black flies
Patient Status: Patient Archive, Success Stories

The hatch-year (HY19) bald eagle from the nest near the Decorah Fish Hatchery and famous from the Raptor Resource Project nest camera tumbled to the ground under the nest on 5 June. Hatchery staff were alerted and the juvenile was safely retrieved and taken to the hatchery.

D33 beak

Black fly bites on the side of D33’s head. Admitted to SOAR 5 June 2019.

Also on 5 June, this eaglet began the journey to SOAR for evaluation and any treatment needed. During transfer to SOAR Executive Director, Kay Neumann, she provided an initial assessment. The eaglet has numerous bites near the eyes and nostrils (nares) and on the back of the head from buffalo gnats (AKA blackfly). These bites have left behind bloody scabs and left this eagle thin, anemic, and bit dehydrated. Kay could feel no fractures or swelling in the legs and wings. Bonus.

Kay also noted before she even picked up the juvenile that the tail and wing feathers were not long enough for this bird to fledge. Look at the photo included of the inside of the left wing. You can still see primary (flight) feathers encased in the sheath.

D33 left wing

A view of the inside of D33’s left wing. Flight feathers still have growing to do.

D33 is interested in food and ate 1/2 a quail on the ride to SOAR. More food and water was offered once in ICU. Pieces of beef heart are on the menu this evening. The heart muscle is high in iron to help combat the anemia.

The abundance of blackfly / buffalo gnats is unfortunate, but part of the cycle of life. Wetland habitat improvement and development would provide quality environments for the blackfly natural predators – dragon and damselflies!


11 June 2019
D33 is a model patient - eating two quail a day! Ambassador Decorah shared some of his trout and D33 ate two! Just like in the nest D33 can poop-shoot quite a distance, guessing 5 feet out the crate door.

D33 is ready to move out of ICU to a 10x20' flight area. It's time to stretch out those wings. Look for the move to happen later this week.

16 June 2019
Weighs 11.5 pounds, beak depth today is 3.35 cm and indicates female. D33 will have another beak measurement just to confirm. D33 was moved to a 10x20 flight pen.

25 June 2019
Two of the three juveniles currently in the "eaglet nursery" are perching! We *think* the perching eaglets are DN9 and D33.

1 July 2019
The nursery eaglets have discovered the kiddie wading pool and are bathing.

20 July 2019
The eaglets in the nursery (D33, DN9, Allamakee, and Calmar) are ready to move to the next size up flight pen that will allow for short flight. The weather has other ideas. It is just too hot to move the eaglets and would be stressful. Better to keep them where they are at with a constant breeze, shade, and cool water in their pool. The nursery eaglets are eating and pooping, flapping, bathing, and looking good.

25 July 2019
The hatch-year 2019 bald eagles in the nursery have moved to the 20’x60’ flight pen! D33, DN9, Allamakee, and Calmar moved on 23 July and can now “start their engines” so to speak. This flight pen is large enough to allow for those necessary short flights that build muscle, stamina, and skill in landing.

30 August 2019
Moved to 100' flight pen to build stamina and socialize with all ages of bald eagles.


23 July 2019 moving day to the 20×60′ flight pen. A close-up of D33 as Kay carries her to the 20×60′ flight pen.