A bald eagle has had its broken beak fixed with a filling by a dentist. In a first of its kind operation a dentist applied putty used to fill holes in human teeth to repair Cyrano the eagle’s top beak.The bird of prey had lost almost all of it after catching it in heavy duty fishing line somewhere off the Alaskan coast. With the circulation cut off and the grinding effect of the line a massive hole developed which had stopped him from hunting.In a few weeks vets suspected further wear would have snapped off the beak completely leading to certain death in the wild.Cyrano was rescued and taken to the Bird Treatment and Learning Centre (BTLC), in Anchorage, Alaska, USA.
The team there had never seen an injury like it and contacted local dentist Kirk Johnson to ask his advice.As these remarkable pictures show the result was a brand new beak for Cyrano who has become the world’s first bird to receive a ‘filling’.Despite most of his patients not having a two-and-half metre wingspan dentist Kirk said the principles of the procedure were similar to his human patients.He said: “”This was just a big tooth for a different individual – a very different individual.”When they asked me if I had an interest in helping to repair a damaged bird’s beak I thought why not.”Then I saw it was a bald eagle’s beak, that is a big bird.”I had the idea of using a similar technique as used on humans, using the product they use when they make temporary crowns.
“It blends right in with the angle of his beak and covers up all the defectiveness we have in there.”Of course the putty was not the same colour as Cyrano’s original beak so we had to find something that was going to be yellow.”I was looking around the office there and saw a yellow high lighter pen and thought, well that’s sort of Alaska style. Let’s get a yellow highlighter and paint this bird beak yellow.”The Alaska spirit is kind of like duct tape, if you have a problem, there’s always a solution.
“While the putty sets in place at least this proud bird will have a yellow beak too until we find a more permanent solution.”It took Kirk and the team of vets more than an hour to complete the initial operation on Cyrano.Cindy Palmatier, manager of the BTLC, said Cyrano was named after the famous French character ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ – renowned for his big nose.She said: “We decided to call him Cyrano, It seemed appropriate somehow given his nose issues.”The best theory we had was that he got some fishing line wrapped around that and over time, it just slowly cut in and cut in and cut in.
“It’s hard to imagine the damage getting any worse, so we had a tricky problem to solve.”You know, it sounds very bizarre to say an eagle has been treated by a dentist and we’re holding all of his beak on with filling putty — but that was really, truly what we were doing.”"I think Kirk did an excellent job of coming up with this type of material to make the beak out of.”Cindy said Cyrano will remain at the Bird Treatment and Learning Centre, which is based in the Alaskan state capital Anchorage, for the foreseeable future.She said: “We are unsure wether he will be able to return to the wild because of the nature of his injury, but he has been saved from death.
“It likely Cyrano will become an educational bird to teach local people about these magnificent creatures and make them aware of how we must take care of them.”Although he will be able to eat whole fish soon, at the moment Cyrano is being given chopped up food to make sure his new beak stays in place.”