SINGAPORE — An injured hawk-eagle found at Jurong Island was nursed back to health by a veterinary team from Jurong Bird Park, and is now flying free again after being released last Friday (21 January).
The park attraction said in a media release on Wednesday that the changeable hawk-eagle - which is named as the species is known to come in two colour forms - was reported injured by a member of the public on 7 January. The native raptor was unable to fly due to burnt feathers in both its wings and tail.
It was rescued by the National Parks Board (NParks), and brought to the Jurong Bird Park's avian hospital the next day. While it was assessed to be good health aside from its damaged feathers, vets said it could take up to 12 months for the eagle to regrow its feathers and fly again.
As such, the vet team decided to use a technique called "imping" on the eagle's wings and feathers to speed up the bird's release back into the wild. The painstaking process involved replacing 50 feathers on the bird's wings and tail using bamboo sticks as "imping needles" to affix the new feathers.
For the procedure, Jurong Bird Park received two sets of donor wings – one of each colour of the eagle – from rescued eagles who had succumbed to severe injuries or diseases. The feathers were successfully imped on the injured eagle last Thursday afternoon.
The hawk-eagle was successfully released by NParks a day after its operation, and has adapted to its new feathers without a problem. A real-time tracking device attached on its tail showed that it has since flown out about 10 kilometres from its release site.
Jurong Bird Park's avian hospital sees about 200 wild avian patients every year for medical rehabilitation or treatment. Most of the birds were successfully released back into the wild.
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