The bald eagle with the bald head is healing and likely won’t need a second surgery, but it will have a bald spot.
An Omaha plastic surgeon and a Henry Doorly Zoo veterinarian Monday removed the stitches and staples from a skin graft surgery performed two weeks ago — and determined another graft isn’t necessary.
Ninety percent of the skin transferred from the eagle's leg to its head survived the surgery, and doctors are letting the final 10 percent heal on its own. That area — at the very top of its head — won’t grow feathers, but should be covered by the feathers growing around it.
The bird was found along a riverbank near Syracuse on Memorial Day weekend. It weighed just five pounds, about half the weight of an adult male, and was unable to fly.
It was also missing all of its crown feathers, its head covered instead by a hard, dark scab.
A state conservation officer took the eagle to Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Recovery Center near Elmwood, which put it on a diet of fish, rat and rabbit and tried to determine what had happened to its head.
The center was stumped for weeks, until the bird was examined by Coleen Stice, an Omaha plastic surgeon, who determined it had suffered an electrical burn. She performed the skin graft surgery Aug. 4 at the Omaha zoo.
The bird will be monitored and given antibiotics at the zoo for two more weeks and then returned to the Raptor Recovery Center, with the goal of eventually releasing it into the wild.