Sunday, April 21, 2013

A raptorful day with Number 105

This is a male bald eagle, unable to stand due
to lead poisoning.

Eagles get lead poisoning by eating other animals
which have been shot by lead shot or bullets.

Eagles commonly prey on waterfowl, and any animal injured by being shot is easy prey for carnivores and raptors. Being opportunists, eagles also eat carrion, so sometimes they accumulate enough lead in their bodies that it poisons them.

It causes many symptoms, the most obvious is the inability to walk or fly, and having green fecal matter.

This guy was showing both signs. The birds have to be treated in a big darned hurry at this point, or they can just die overnight.

A state park official contacted one of the many relay people who volunteer for Raptor Recovery Nebraska, and everything was put into motion.

That official took the eagle to person A in the network. I was person B, whom person A brought the bird to. I was going to drive him to person C, but as it turned out, I took the bird on to its destination, where it could be effectively treated (and in a hurry) for the poisoning.

I drove 95 miles to person C's house and she had part of the antidote ready, seen in a blur at right. She gave him a chelating shot to start getting the lead out of his system.

She and I also conducted a physical exam, to see if he was otherwise injured or underfed. He was underfed.

But I liked it that he was clearly unhappy with us. He snapped his beak, he tugged on his wings as we examined him. And then, best of all, he stood on a branch in his cage.

Some birds respond to treatment, some don't.

Some seem to be recovering and don't.

I've known birds who were completely paralyzed and with four times a fatal amount of lead in their systems to come back. But you just can't tell.

So here's to Mr. 105. Hang in there!

For more information, see Donate to the program. The volunteers give of their time, fuel and cell phones to keep this program going.

You didn't spend ALL of your tax return already, did you?

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