Bald Eagle Dies Days After Being Rescued From Waukegan Harbor

A bald eagle who was rescued from Waukegan Harbor earlier this week after being observed floating on ice has died, according to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

The bird was rescued on Monday by volunteers with the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors after bird watchers noticed a despondent-looking bird floating on a piece of ice and reached out to the organization for assistance.

A volunteer paddled to the bird in a kayak and used a net to bring the bird out of the water and into a warm vehicle.

The eagle, visibly ill and underweight, was taken to Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn where it tested positive for lead.

"When we see cases like this, and unfortunately we see them all too frequently, it’s usually due to secondary anticoagulant rodenticide exposure, which is rat bait basically," said Dr. Sarah Reich, lead veterinarian at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

The bird initially showed encouraging signs of recovery within the first 48 hours of arrival before taking a rapid turn for the worst, as the eagle's red blood cell count plummeted.

According to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, the bird passed away before a blood transfusion could be performed. The bird was estimated to be approximately three years old.

"The bird showed a large amount of bruising of the skin around the legs despite already being on treatment for anticoagulant rodenticides. 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," a statement from the Willowbrook Wildlife Center read in part.

The statement added that the bird will undergo a necropsy to determine a definitive cause of death, as the bird's case was not straightforward or easily diagnosed.

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