Eagle, recovered from spinal surgery, heading for new home

Buddy can fly short distances now, but not well enough to survive in the wild. (Atlantic Veterinary College - image credit)
Buddy can fly short distances now, but not well enough to survive in the wild. (Atlantic Veterinary College - image credit)

It's been a long year for Buddy the eagle at Charlottetown's Atlantic Veterinary College, starting when he was brought in bloody and broken after being hit by a car.

Following groundbreaking surgery and a long period of rehabilitation, the bald eagle will leave AVC this week for a new, permanent home at Hope for Wildlife's rehabilitation and education centre in Seaforth, N.S.

"On the one hand, very happy that we've found such a good place for it," said wildlife technician Fiep de Bie.

"On the other hand I will surely miss this eagle, because it has character and it went through so much."

Atlantic Veterinary College
Atlantic Veterinary College

The eagle could not stand, let alone fly, when he was brought to AVC by in November of 2021. Veterinarians diagnosed a spinal injury. Research in veterinary journals found that while the corrective surgery is common for dogs it is virtually unknown in birds. AVC staff found just one reference to the surgery being done on birds, and that was 20 years ago.

They went ahead with the surgery and it was a success. Unfortunately, during recovery Buddy repeatedly used his wrists for support in standing, leading to injuries that permanently impaired his ability to fly. This summer, AVC announced Buddy could not be returned to the wild, and that they were seeking a permanent home.

It was a difficult task, said de Bie. With avian flu spreading all over the world it is hard to place birds right now.

Buddy's move to Hope for Wildlife is an expansion of an existing partnership.

"We have rotations for students that are visiting there every year," said de Bie.

School and community groups will also be able to take advantage of educational opportunities from Buddy's presence there.

"This will still be considered an educational animal and there will be people visiting," said de Bie.

"There will be school groups, kids of certain age, that can visit."

Children will learn about eagles, how they live in the wild, the conservation issues eagles are facing, as well as about Buddy's history in particular.

It is good to have Buddy settled nearby, said de Bie, and staff from AVC will continue to monitor his progress.