Health assessment of individuals is an important aspect of monitoring endangered wildlife populations. Haematological and biochemical values are a common health assessment tool, and whilst reference values are well established for domestic species, they are often not available for wild animal species. This study established 31 haematological and biochemical reference intervals for golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) nestlings in Scotland, in order to improve the understanding of the species’ health and support conservation efforts. Reference intervals were created from 47 nestlings (ages 2–7.5 weeks old) across 37 nests, to date, the largest sample of wild individuals of this species and age cohort sampled for these purposes. Upper reference intervals for concentrations of lymphocytes, total protein, cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, and monocytes, calculated in this study, are higher than those found for adult raptors and the interval span is higher than that observed in adult raptors for concentrations of AST, albumin, eosinophil, LDH, and monocyte count. Statistically significant positive correlations were found with age and concentrations of haemoglobin, lymphocytes, serum pH, and creatine kinase, and significant negative correlations with age for concentrations of thrombocytes, heterophils, total protein, globulin, and lactate dehydrogenase. Packed cell volume was significantly higher for females than males, and concentration of calcium and eosinophils were higher for individuals in good body condition than those in moderate body condition. The reference intervals produced by this study will be of important use to the veterinary and conservation management communities and will aid the long-term monitoring of the Scottish golden eagle population health.
- reference interval
- golden eagle