Thursday, February 22, 2007

Raptors Anyone?

Well, we have some new animals in residence at Wolf Hollow and from the posting's title I am sure you can guess what kind they might be. Let's start with our latest owl internee.

This Barred owl was found in La Connor lying under a tree and barely breathing. When we got it in, it had balance problems and had VERY foul smelling and loose feces with possible occult blood (blood from the lower GI tract). He also cast a pellet that was poorly formed, made mostly of grass along with a whole beetle, which tells us he had been on the ground for awhile. He was given a homeopathic drug to help deal with trauma and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for pain. From what I heard, he looked so bad, no one thought he was going to make it through the night.

But this owl is a wonderful example of owl tenacity, as the next day he was standing and clacking his beak at everyone! And by the time Saturday rolled around, he was ready to be moved to an outdoor mew. Now, I am not sure if I have ever divulged the fact that one of my favorite maintenance type things to do is to go out with some branches, a drill, and some screws and make the mews and aviaries more "homey" for the birds. But, I am so anal about it ("No, you can't put the branch there as he won't be able to hide behind it. No, now it's too low." ) that no one goes out with me anymore. That's fine by me, as I said, I love doing it! So out I went to make the mew more "homey".

This is only part of the mew, but you get the idea! I just love when we first put them back outdoors, too, as they always spend some time looking back and forth, listening to the new noises.

The other raptor we got in is a Red-tailed hawk.

As you can see from this picture, he was a bit banged up when he arrived. Found by the highway in Sedro Wooley, he was initially taken to the Fish and Wildlife office in Mt. Vernon, who then sent him on to us. Upon initial examination, he wasn't using his legs, but he could move them. His right eye had slight abrasions around it with his pupillary response being very slow. But a fluorescein exam ruled out any corneal abrasions, so that was good. An x-ray told the rest of the story.

Can you see it? Here's a closeup of the damage.

His right ulna had what the vet called a comminuted fracture. What is a comminuted fracture, you might ask? It's a fracture in which the bone is splintered, broken, or crushed into multiple pieces. Since the alignment was okay and the radius was in tact and could act as a splint, his wing was wrapped with a figure 8 wrap, to stabilize the fracture site and to immobilize the joints on either side of the fracture.

On Saturday, I got to give him fluids by tubing him and there were antibiotics along with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory within the liquid we gave him. He isn't eating on his own, so I also had to force feed him some venison. Luckily, if you got the pieces back far enough in his mouth he would swallow them, instead of having to really push them down his throat. We checked his pupillary response, which is slightly improved, and he was standing on his perch later that day, all of which are good signs.

Kent and Bucky continue to do well, with Kent still running around on the ground more than normal for periods of time interspersed with her flying around her aviary at others. Now we just need to clarify why she is running around on the ground so much. Shona, our Educational Director extraordinaire, said that could just be an overly-stressed reaction she has, instead of it necessarily being a physical issue.

That was the major excitement for last Saturday. I did hear that we got an eagle in and a Snow goose that was attacked by an eagle. So it's looking like it may be a busy day on Saturday. Oh, and...drum roll please...I GOT A NEW CAMERA! WOOHOO!! Yep, I finally got something a step up from the point-and-shoot variety I had previously! I've got lots of reading and learning to do, but I am expecting the pictures from this new camera to be a might better than the other one, especially with close-ups. Needless to say, I will be taking both cameras with me to Wolf Hollow until I become comfortable with the new one. Til next time...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Last Saturday,....

and by that I don't mean yesterday, was a LOT better than the week before. So let's get to the latest residences, shall we?

We now have a Northern flicker in the Indoor Mew.

I should stop right here and apologize ahead of time for the blurriness of my pictures this week. Not sure what happened except that the two newest residences were very stressed out, so I hurried. SORRY!

Also, I keep mentioning the Indoor Mew and thought you might like to see how they have it setup for her. And yes, it is a "her", due to the lack of a bright red-orange patch on the side of the head.

Yep, they have a tree in there and everything! She's a pretty picky eater, mainly eating the suet, meal worms, and this new stuff we have been using called Flicker Smear, which is made up of peanut butter, suet and soaked kitten food, and named due to the fact that you smear it onto the logs spread out throughout the mew.

She was found in Friday Harbor and we believe she had been attacked by another animal, as she was missing feathers on the back of the head/neck region and had lost a lot of feather, along with skin on the back, so much so that muscle was exposed.
She was given antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. The wound was cleaned up and covered with Tagaderm.

She is flying well but was losing weight last week, which we will be keeping an eye on.

This is the other cutie we got in. It's a female Bufflehead that was found on Lopez Island.

I just LOVE these little guys, as they seem almost cartoon-like to me. I was fortunate enough to be there when she was admitted, so I got to see how we care for these unique waterfowl from the get go. First off, it was very clear that she was emaciated, weighing in at only 220g, when their normal weight is around 330g. She had been given fluids by the volunteer that sent her to us, so the first thing WE did, after giving her a physical exam, is to draw blood from her leg. This is so we can check on the red blood cells v.s. serum levels and her protein count.

Isn't her foot just fascinating?! Spending the majority of their life in water, salt or fresh, their toes are flattened to help with swimming and diving. Also, their skin looks almost reptilian in nature.

We filled up a tiny tube with blood and into the centrifuge it went. This separates out the red blood cells, white blood cells, and the serum. And here's what it looks like when it's done.

Now, the white blood cells are pretty hard to see, as they are this miniscule layer in between the red blood cells and the serum. We then take this tube and place it on this.

Called a Micro-Hematocrit Capillary Tube Reader, it helps read the packed red cell volume against the serum as a percentage. So you line the bottom of the tube on the bottom line of the chart and slide the tube until the top part of the serum section hits the top line of the chart. For animals avian in nature, you want the ratio to read between 45% and 55%.

The Bufflehead's read 49%, always keeping in mind, though, that dehydration does have an effect on those percentages. If she was completely hydrated, which she wasn't at the time of the blood draw, this could read completely different, so it's a rough guesstimate.

Then we break the tube and place some of the serum on this Refractometer.

Okay, am I dating myself if I say this looks like something out of a classic Star Trek episode? What this actually does is looks at the levels of dissolved proteins in the blood. This level determines if the animal can have food or is so emaciated they need to be started on some liquid food therapy, like Ensure. It needs to be over 2.0 for the feeding of food and hers read 2.4, so we chopped up some smelt and gave that to her.

After all of this, we need to get her feet and legs protected. Being a water bird, their skin is very delicate, so we take precautions to try and protect it as much as possible, seeing as how they won't be back in water for awhile. The first step is to coat the legs and feet with a water based lubricant.

Then, we wrap the legs and feet to prevent as much chaffing as possible.

And here is what she looked like when she was all done.

Even now I can't help giggling at this picture. Not sure why, it just strikes me as very funny! She was then put in a carrier that had a scaffold with netting stretched across it. This also helps with the prevention of feet/leg chaffing.

As you can see, her leg wraps slid off just in the time it took me to walk with her to the back room. They decided to wait and see if more of the lubricant got absorbed before trying to wrap them again.

That's it for now. I'll post my update for yesterday's adventures later this week. Til next time...