Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Pox on Your Raven!

Yes, we have gotten in a couple of Ravens that have Avian Pox, the first of which we had to euthanize upon arrival due to a mangled wing. This one was found on the ground and has pox lesions on his feet, hocks, and under his chin.

Avian Pox is caused by a virus and can only be contracted by a bird if there is an open wound or skin abrasion that is exposed to another bird carrying the disease or if the skin is pierced by a carrier. Insects, especially mosquitoes, are well known carriers of this disease and young birds, due to there immature immune systems, are particularly vulnerable. While there are a couple of different strains, it takes on two different forms, and the one we tend to see is the cutaneous pox variety, which causes wart-like growths on skin, like around the eyes and beak, and other unfeathered areas. So the one under his chin is uncommon and might have been the original entry site of the virus.

The ones on his legs and feet are the most visible. To help fight this, we are giving it vitamins, to help boost its immune system, and the pox lesions themselves are cleaned up, any infectious material (i.e. pus) is drained/removed, and then we put Primrose oil on them. The virus can live for up to two years and is shed through the skin, feathers, and fecal matter. So if they can survive through the worst of it, they can recover. This one will be a wait-and-see scenario as far as its outcome goes. Right now we are providing supportive care. The rest is up to the raven.

Okay, let's chat about this picture:


This was found in the Aviary of this wee one.

You remember this Saw-whet. It's the one that was left on a doorstep for a few days and it took so long to completely recover that at one point we thought it might become and educational bird. When it was moved to the bigger Aviary, it did really well. Every time we fed it, it wouldn't even wait for us to leave before swooping down to the log and grabbing its mouse.

Usually, if an owl isn't hungry, they just leave the mouse where it is. But with this one, we started finding mice in places other than on the log, like here...

...and of course here.....

...and with this one, well.....

... it just bit the head off and used the open neck wound to plaster it to the branch! Now, of course there was more than a bit of discussion about this, as this was the first time we had seen this. Penny surmised that maybe this was a reaction to it being on that doorstep for 3 days without food, so it felt the need to stash extra mice around the area.

And I was willing to accept this as a reasonable explanation, until I saw this:

This is the cached mouse of THIS Saw-whet owl!

After we realized that we had not one, but two, Saw-whet owls that cached food, new theories started to emerge. Maybe they did this in the wild, but it had never been documented before, as the cached food was eaten by other animals. Perhaps in the wild, when they weren't hungry, they just didn't hunt and therefore didn't have extra food to cache, but being in captivity and being presented with food, whether they were hungry or not, induced this behavior. Guess we will never know. Both of these Saw-whet owls have since been released!!!

Got to experience a first this week, and it's a "first" I am in no hurry to experience again anytime soon. And that was the washing of a juvenile Glaucous-winged gull that had been covered for at least a week in fryer oil! Ugh! We had received an initial call about it but when someone went out to find it, it was gone. A week later another call came in about it and this time we were able to find it and get it in to Wolf Hollow.

Now, while this isn't as bad as the washing of the owl that fell into the pit toilet, it did reek. And because there was just Shona and I there, I couldn't volunteer to "stand back and document the process with my camera." So, Shona and I donned the prerequisite garbage bag haute couture and we began.

We weren't 30 seconds into the first of three washes when it got its wings loose and sloshed water EVERYWHERE, including down the front of Shona and me.

This one is also quite the biter, so Shona had the beak firmly gripped while I washed the bitey bugger! It was NOT a happy camper! Then again, neither were we.

Look at the water! Yech!

The tub on the right is from his second washing and the tub on the left had been emptied from the initial washing and was used for his 3rd and final wash that day. It's amazing how much oil and grease it had on its feathers!

Having said that.....

*Thanks for the use of the photo, Penny!

..it looked a LOT better when we were done. Definitely more the proper gull grey than the all-over pasty brown color it was before the wash. Unfortunately, it will need to be washed again, as I happened to peek into the Indoor aviary, where it is now staying, on Sunday morning and happened to have caught it just after it had gotten done bathing in the tub. It was completely and utterly soaking wet! It has no, and I mean zilch, for waterproofing on its feathers right now. Look at this picture of it.

This was taken a few hours after its bath and it still looks damp! Yep, another washing is definitely in order. I am hoping beyond all hope that Penny and Shona took care of this oh-so-wonderful task sometime this week. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Yes, there are a few other animals in care, but because it is so slow, I want to make sure I have something to write about this upcoming weekend.

Til next time...

4 comments:

Penny said...

aww.. I wish I knew you were writing about the raven. B/c well there is no wait and see anymore. After talking to vets, including Dr. Huckabee from PAWS, we decided to euth him. The risk of the facility & also not knowing if he would be a carrier for life and could introduce it to other ravens was not a risk that John thought should be taken.

Kari said...

Damn, that's too bad about the raven. :[

Shannon said...

It is too bad about the raven. Such beautiful birds!

mom said...

What I loved was the "mouse trees"! Is there anyone you can contact to see if this is a wild, neverbefore documented behavior...you could be on to something here!

As always, great photos and commentary!