Yesterday afternoon I received a call about a downed Golden Eagle near the Powell airport. James gave me excellent directions so I found her as soon as I arrived at mile post 23. She couldn't fly so I easily walked faster and caught her. There didn't appear to be any fractures but her crop was very extended. It felt as if it was air and fluids with some meat pieces.
That does happen from time to time, usually when they dine on a carcass that's a bit "ripe". One method to overcome the problem is to introduce fluids and then massage the crop to get things moving. I did that but after a few hours it hadn't helped. Then my volunteers, Sara and Mike, helped me to physically remove meat from her crop. Not a pleasant job at all but they were super.
What very much surprised me was that the meat pieces were small and very fresh. Not rotten at all. I rechecked her again before bed and she'd vomited more meat but was sitting on her perch and seemed bright and alert. Unfortunately when I went out at 6:15 this morning to see about how she was doing I found her dead.
At this point the only thing I can think caused her death is poison of some kind. Even with sour crop the birds are able to fly and she couldn't. I'm getting together with our USFWS person on Monday to see about having both her body and the meat pieces tested at their Washington state office. As this is probably the female of a pair nesting near the airport James said he'd be on the lookout for any other eagles who appear distressed.