Home Wildlife Center of Virginia to release two bald eagles

Wildlife Center of Virginia to release two bald eagles


wildlife-center2The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, will release two Bald Eagles during the week of August 24 – on Wednesday, August 26 at 11:30 a.m. at Widewater State Park in Stafford County, and on Thursday, August 27 at 3:00 p.m. at Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County.

The releases are free and open to the public.  Individuals who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to the Center at [email protected].  

Wednesday release.  The Bald Eagle to be released on Wednesday – an adult female – was found down on the ground, unable to fly, near Widewater on May 10.  The eagle was captured by an animal control officer and transported to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro by a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officer.

Admitted as Patient #15-0642 [the 642nd patient of 2015], the eagle received a complete physical examination, including radiographs and blood work.  The Center’s veterinary staff found that the eagle had a broken talon and several superficial foot lacerations; the eagle also was unable to fly well.  A complete case history is available on the Center’s website, at: http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/current-patients/bald-eagle-15-0642.

The eagle has spent the past three months in the Center’s outdoor pens, slowly building up strength and stamina.  Center veterinary and rehabilitation staff have been exercising the eagle for several weeks; they have determined that the eagle is able to fly well and is ready to be returned to the wild.

The eagle to be released on Wednesday has been outfitted with a transmitter, which will allow the eagle’s travels to be tracked.  This will be the fifth Bald Eagle treated at the Center that has been released with a transmitter.  Additional information about the other four eagles is available at: http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/success-stories.

Wednesday’s release is scheduled for Widewater State Park, which is in its initial development.  Please note that there will be no restroom or other facilities at the release site.  Directions to the release site, off of Brent Point Road, have been posted on the Center’s website, at:  http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/patient-updates/bald-eagle-15-0642-release-scheduled.

Thursday release.  The eagle to be released on Thursday – a juvenile male – was found on the ground in Windsor on June 19.  Animal Control Officer Tiffany Webb captured the eagle and took it to Smithfield Animal Hospital; the eagle was transported later that day to the Center in Waynesboro by volunteer transporter Michelle Allen.

Admitted as Patient #15-1250, the hatch-year bird had a complete physical examination; the bird had an initial head tremor and lacked muscle coordination.  The eagle was moved to one of the Center’s outdoor flight pens and showed rapid improvement.  Center veterinary and rehabilitation staff have been exercising the eagle for several weeks; they have determined that the eagle is ready to be returned to the wild.

A complete case history for #15-1250 is available at:  http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/current-patients/bald-eagle-15-1250.

Participants in Thursday’s release are asked to meet at the Visitor Center of the Park [address is 695 Chippokes Park Road, Surry VA 23883].

It is estimated that the Bald Eagle population of North America numbered about half a million before European settlement.  With the loss of habitat, hunting, and the effects of DDT and other pesticides, the U.S. eagle population plummeted.  In 1977, for example, there were fewer than 50 Bald Eagle nests in Virginia.

Today, the Bald Eagle population in Virginia is on the rebound.  There are now more than 1,000 active Bald Eagle nests in the Commonwealth.

Since its founding in 1982, the Wildlife Center has treated scores of Bald Eagles, done extensive studies of environmental factors that affect eagles and other wildlife, and worked to reform laws and regulations to strengthen the protection afforded to Bald Eagles.  The Center is currently treating 11 Bald Eagles, including the two birds to be released later this week.

Every year, about 2,400 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to Black Bear cubs to hummingbirds and chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care.  The goal of the Center is “to treat to release” – to restore patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine.  Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Center has cared for more than 65,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  The Center’s public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wildlife, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife.

In July 2011, the Center launched Critter Cam, which allows wildlife enthusiasts around the world to watch a variety of Center patients, including the eagles to be released this week.  Patients that are currently “featured” on one of the three Critter Cam feeds, in addition to the two Bald Eagles to be released this week, are seven rambunctious Black Bear Cubs, and two Wildlife Center permanent residents – Buttercup, a Black Vulture, and Maggie, a Peregrine Falcon.  A link to Critter Cam can be found at www.wildlifecenter.org.

Widewater State Park is an 1,100-acre property of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, on the peninsula created by the confluence of Aquia Creek and the Potomac River.  The park, in its initial phase of development, provides prime habitat for Bald Eagles.  One of the Center’s patients released with a transmitter has twice checked in from Widewater – on April 20, 2013 and on April 20, 2014.  Additional information about that eagle is available at: http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/success-story/tracking-nx.

Chippokes Plantation State Park is a 1,947-acre park on the south shore of the James River, just across from Jamestown.  Chippokes has been a working farm since 1619; the park today includes a variety of wildlife habitats – tidal marshes and sloughs, stands of loblolly pine, mixed hard forest, and bald cypress swamp.  Chippokes is administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; additional information about the Park through the DCR website, at:




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