Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle • Born: 2012 • Gender: Male • Disability: Scissor beak
Aubbie, a juvenile Bald Eagle, was found in a lady’s yard near Chattanooga in 2013. She asked that he be called ‘Aubbie’ in honor of her alma mater, Auburn University. Aubbie had a severe disability called scissor beak. This eaglet was hatched in a nest on a river location where heavy dumping of chemicals took place. We believe that is the reason it was born with a deformed beak, along with internal deficiencies, which were also present.
Veterinarians at the University of Tennessee’s School of Veterinary Medicine evaluated and treated Aubbie, trimming his upper and lower beak in order to try to make them as straight as possible. Unlike ‘Beauty,’ the eagle who received a prosthetic beak after his beak was shot off, Aubbie’s beak was very deformed, and it was very questionable how a prosthetic beak could be engineered to help him. Every avenue was explored and he received the best care that could possibly be given him.
Aubbie’s deformed beak made it difficult for him to eat, so food had to be carefully prepared and cut into strips so that he could self feed. He had to eat in a special way, using his beak as a shovel and scooping up the food. To assist him, caregivers created a perch for him that went right up to his special table where the food was placed. He’s the only eagle we know who always ate at a table!
Since he could not preen his feathers with his beak, caregivers created innovative ways to help groom him. From a soft baby doll hairbrush, to aloe infused gloves, his feathers were carefully groomed so that they stayed healthy. He loved to go outside and sit in the sun—so he was ‘weathered’ almost every day. The sun helped to condition his feathers, and he loved to be misted with the hose.
Karen Wilbur, one of Aubbie’s devoted caregivers, remembered him in this way:
“Our job at the AEF is an amazing job! When your feet hit the floor in the morning you love knowing you are going to work to take care of beautiful birds. But then there are days like this. You work so hard to make a life for birds like Aubbie! A life of quality. You do everything you can to make their life as wonderful as you can. You give your all for them, but it is not enough because God has another plan. He gives them to you to love, nurture and heal. However sometimes we don’t have the power to pull them through a difficult time. And they are taken from us to keep them from their pain. We lost Aubbie today October 22, 2014. There were tears, but we all understand that when Aubbie left us, we did everything we could to give him the best life. He knew we loved him. He was gentle and sweet. But it was his time go. We will miss him and remember him always. Our little Aubbie.”