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Sea Eagles Get Routine Examination At National Aviary

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – They may not receive the same amount of attention as bald eagles, but today, the Steller's Sea Eagle was focus of the staff at the National Aviary.

"Steller's Eagles are one of the biggest eagles we have out there. They are just incredibly large. They are almost twice as large as the bald eagle," Dr. Pilar Fish said.

On Monday, the Aviary conducted annual exams on its male, Kodiak, and female Aleutia with no anesthesia.

"You have to be very organized. You have to look for certain things from her standpoint and her procedures, even us catching birds outside it's very organized," Animal Collections Director Kurt Hundgen said.

Once the birds are in the examination room, it's almost an assembly line of veterinarian medicine. They must to protect the staff and the birds themselves from the razor sharp talons. Each bird is given a ball to clench in each foot and then each foot is wrapped. They draw blood from a tiny artery in the left wing, then check the eyes, nostrils and mouth of each bird. After a general exam, they also check the reproductive organs hoping for some good news.

"Her area where she would lay an egg is actually a little bit large and so, she might be becoming reproductively active. I did some extra tests to make sure that she will be a good mom," Dr. Fish said.

Breeding Steller's Eagles in captivity is quite rare, but the National Aviary is hopeful their might be a few more mouths to feed.

"Nest building, incubation, chick rearing, raptors in general are devoted parents so if we are able to get to the egg stage and the chick stage it would be quite an accomplishment for us," Hundgen said.

"They seem to be very healthy. Physical exams were very normal so I am encouraged that they will be ready to breed. They are just healthy birds and seem to be doing very well," Dr. Fish said.

It takes just five minutes per bird, but they hope it leads to a lifetime of enjoyment for visitors at the National Aviary.


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