The barred owl who came in earlier in the week was found in the middle of the road. Both his wings were broken—both open fractures. I mean, his wings faced backward and upside down. There was nothing to be done for this guy but to end his suffering.
Last week’s concussed barred owl now appears to be totally blind. A vet exam last Monday did confirm a luxated lens in the right eye. This means the lens was ripped loose by the force of impact when he hit the car. It’s not fixable, but we thought the left eye looked okay, and he was eating the white rats I placed on a white puppy pad in his box, so he had to be able to see them, right? He was doing so well I placed a perch in his box Friday.
The bird apparently had been finding the rats by feel. On the perch, he couldn’t see where they were, and he couldn’t see to get off the perch, so he just didn’t eat. I’ll be having him re-examined tomorrow, as well, to see if there might be a chance that issue in the left eye will resolve over time. Optic nerve damage can be tricky—you can’t see it, and sometimes it resolves but more often it doesn’t. We’ll decide this poor barred’s fate tomorrow, as well. I’m not optimistic.
And that will mean 100% euthanasias for barreds in the past six weeks. Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends and Jennifer Gardner of Gardner Veterinary Services (and also a licensed rehabber) are reporting similar outcomes for their barred owl intakes. The issue seems to be lack of prey, with the added burden of migration, so that hungry raptors are hunting near roads and having fatal encounters with vehicles.
When raptors DO snag prey, however, they eat everything—bones, fur, and flesh. Because they can’t actually digest the bones and fur, they regurgitate it in the form of pellets—much like a cat’s hairball. The pellet-casting also helps to keep the digestive tract clean and functioning smoothly. Why am I telling you this? Because I snapped a photo of a very nicely-formed pellet this past week for your viewing pleasure. Sorry, didn’t think about using the dissection forceps to pry it apart…
He looked pretty rough and weighed only 15g, which is starvation-thin, near-death-thin for a pigeon. To put it in perspective, a fledgling mockingbird averages around 35-40g. He had poop caked rock-hard to his little bottom. He just looked rough. But…he was alert and fairly active, considering I’d gotten him in after dark.
By morning he was looking better and had gotten quite feisty, trying to run from me to avoid food, water and meds. I’m still hand-feeding, as he refuses to attempt self-feeding thus far. His weight is slowly increasing, and he’s looking less rough, so I think he’s gonna have a pretty good chance at a spring release.
For those of you who would still like to donate to LWR’s 2014 rehab efforts, we still have our 2014 calendars selling through Lulu.com: http://www.lulu.com/shop/laurens-wildlife-rescue-2014-calendar/calendar/product-21282459.html?showPreview=true. Remember that all proceeds above Lulu.com’s fees will be used to fund LWR’s operations next year, so buy lots of calendars—they’ll make great Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers! The button below will take you directly to the Lulu site and add a calendar to your shopping cart automatically. I’m retaining the 10% discount for at least another week, and as an added bonus, Lulu.com is offering free shipping from now through Dec. 24 if you use the code FREESHIP.