It’s spring cleaning season at Northwest Trek and our maintenance staff recently used their big lift to retrieve small tree limbs that had fallen on top of the netting of Eagle Passage, while pressure washing around the area, too.
So our animal care and veterinary teams took advantage of the opportunity to give annual health exams to bald eagles Sequoia, Sucia, Salish and Cheveyo.
All four rescued birds traveled to the onsite veterinary clinic where they got a massive “hug” from Keeper Wendi. Because it was not necessary to anesthetize the bald eagles during these exams, animal care and veterinary staff go to great lengths to ensure the iconic birds are comfortable.
To calm and reassure each eagle, Wendi holds their sharp feet with one gloved hand and safely tucks their wings in. The bald eagle’s back is positioned next to her chest and she “hugs” them with her other gloved hand. At times, Wendi holds their beaks with that extra hand so they don’t bite. Sometimes the veterinary team covers their eyes to help relax and soothe them.
The annual exams allow Head Veterinarian Dr. Allison Case to get a good up-close look at all four of Northwest Trek’s rescued bald eagles.
Veterinary Technician Tracy first checks that Sequoia’s microchip is functioning properly. The microchips allow staff to differentiate the eagles, even though they can easily tell them apart.
The bald eagles’ powerful talons are a large focus of the exam.
The talons are trimmed.
And the bottoms of their feet are closely examined.
Their beaks are then carefully trimmed, smoothed and cleaned.
After a thorough examination of feet and beaks, Veterinary Technician Tracy gives the birds their West Nile vaccine.
Lastly, the eagles are swaddled like babies (for that “hugging” effect) and are weighed. An accurate weight helps keepers know if they need to adjust the bald eagles’ diet.
All four of these majestic birds were injured in the wild and deemed non-releasable due to varying degrees of being flightless.
Despite what they’ve endured in the past, these bald eagles are in great health, Dr. Case said.
Before heading home to Eagle Passage, Salish squawks and gives his care team a parting goodbye.