Avian Specialty Veterinary Services of Alaska

13861 Hillcrest St NW
Poulsbo, WA 98370-8134

(360)271-7000

avian-vet.com

Field Notes: June 25, 2011 --

House Call for a New Golden Eagle

By Dr. Scott Ford

As many of you know, I enjoy the variety of my job and particularly enjoy the spectrum of wildlife I work with. Saturday was no exception. After having a great time at the Grand Opening of All Creatures Animal Hospital?s new hospital addition, I journeyed down to Tacoma to see a new addition to Brian Kellogg?s falconry birds. He had just returned from Wyoming where he had acquired a new sub-adult male golden eagle. The bird was acquired through the USDA?s Wildlife Services as part of its depredation program (e.g., removing golden eagles that develop a taste for livestock). This can be a controversial issue but, right or wrong, the birds are removed from circulation and, fortunately, there are a few expert, appropriately licensed falconers out there who can take the birds in and give them an active, healthy life. We performed a very brief exam on the bird as it was still in the very early stages of adjusting to its new life and had already gone through the stress of a couple of days of travel. Brian also makes great raptor paraphernalia such as the beautiful, snug, custom-fit hood the bird was wearing. The comfort and effectiveness of the hood was obvious?the bird did not once scratch at the hood or shake its head, which are common actions I see in raptors with ill-fitting hoods. Nor did the bird catch a glimpse of my hands as I carefully felt him over on his screen perch. When a raptor?s vision is effectively blocked it becomes very calm and compliant, so long as you are gentle and calm in your demeanor as well. The bird?s plumage was immaculate as it sat stately perched in Brian?s living room. This is a common setting for the early phases of training a raptor as it gives the bird a chance to gradually get used to the sounds and activities of the falconer in a relatively calm, controlled setting. A physical exam (feeling the bird over in this case), auscultation (listening to heart and lungs), and a fecal analysis were performed and, so far, show a clean bill of health. Golden eagles are prone to a fungal infection called ?aspergillosis,? particularly during times of stress, so this bird will be treated with an antifungal as a preventative for a while. Soon, in Brian?s expert training and care, the bird will be flown free for hunting and will probably make the rounds as an ambassador for wild raptors (Brian does many programs to bird groups and schools as part of sharing his joy of the sport of falconry and birds of prey). If you are curious about Brian?s falconry equipment, check out his web page at http://dragonhoods.rednoteproductions.com or e-mail him at bphawk1@hotmail.com. He makes several items that would also work great for raptor rehabilitators, use with educational raptors, or for raptor researchers (check out his eagle booties, abas, and ?trapper? hoods). If you are curious about falconry in general, check out the links at his website or on my website at http://www.alaskabirddoc.com/site/view/192763_Falconry.pml.