A sick bald eagle that was rescued from a floating piece of ice in the Waukegan Harbor over the weekend has died despite initially showing signs of improvement, a rehabilitation center said.
The Willowbrook Wildlife Center said a sub-adult bald eagle, likely around three years old, was seen standing on a piece of ice that was floating on Lake Michigan in Waukegan Sunday morning.
The bird was quiet and wet and did not fly away like other surrounding birds when stimulated.
The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a non-profit organization, was called to the scene.
One of the organization’s volunteers, Jim Tibensky, was able to kayak out to the bird.
He broke off a small piece of ice the eagle was on and pushed it to shore.
Chicago Bird Collision Monitors said the bird, which was thin and debilitated, may be a victim of second-hand rodent poison.
The bird was netted and transferred to a warm car before being transported to Willowbrook Wildlife Center.
The center said the bird was “much easier to handle” than normal for the species, which are usually feisty.
A veterinarian conducted a physical exam and noticed the bird was thin, wet and disheveled.
A concern for bald eagles is lead exposure, the center said. The bird did not test high enough to warrant treatment.
An initial radiograph did not reveal any significant abnormalities, the center said. Bloodwork showed moderate anemia with a delayed clotting time.
The bird was started on a cocktail of fluids, anti-inflammatories, antimicrobials and vitamins and set up in a heated cage.
The bird was “feeling much better” as of Monday morning.
The Willowbrook Wildlife Center said in an update Thursday that despite promising signs of recovery, the bird took a “very rapid turn for the worst.”
The bird’s packed cell volume dropped from 29% at intake to just 6% Wednesday evening.
The bird died before a blood transfusion could be initiated.
The bird showed a large amount of bruising of the skin around the legs despite already being on treatment for anticoagulant rodenticides, the center said.
“Unfortunately, we do see this progression in wildlife cases often – an initial improvement likely related to being warmed up and rehydrated but then a rapid decline as the underlying cause of illness was just too much for the body to overcome,” the wildlife center said.
The bird will be sent out for a necropsy to determine a cause of death.