A woman calls and leaves a message she has a blue jay and it needs help. I call back. She says, "I'm afraid I'm gonna be one of those people you hate; we've had him for 2 weeks."
Cue smoke from ears. I know the hostility is radiating through the phone and although I'm sure she didn't understand it, my shortness with her was extreme self-restraint to keep from cussing her out up one side and down the other. Why? Because I already knew the bird was in bad shape, sight unseen.
They'd been feeding the bird boiled eggs and dog food. That's it. Another damn Internet diet. They KNEW when they found him he had one injured leg, but it wasn't until he broke the other one that day because of MBD, a severe calcium deficiency, that they decided to get help.
Two weeks with an untreated injury AND a crap diet. OH. MY. GOD. I just wanted to scream, "REALLY??? Would you allow your child or your dog or cat to go TWO WEEKS without treatment for an injury that impaired his/her ability to stand and walk?”
So we meet. I pick up the jay and immediately see the right leg is broken below the ankle.
"Yes, it was like that when we found him."
I look at the left leg. Swollen fracture above the ankle.
"Yes, that happened today; that's when we started looking for help."
"Yes, he couldn't stand up. I cleaned his paper daily."
His feather growth is stunted; the feathers are full of stress bars from malnutrition. I point this out.
I explain that there's nothing I can do at this point and she bursts into tears. I feel NO remorse at causing her outburst, because now I'M the one who has to take this poor, malnourished blue jay, with both legs now beyond repair, and EUTHANIZE him.
I find the statement about not knowing possession of wildlife without a permit is illegal questionable, as a quick Internet search of my own on “how to feed a baby bird" turned up, in the first FOUR results, one crap result, a vet clinic warning it was illegal and to seek help, and two rehab centers begging people to bring the wildlife to them BEFORE feeding.
Further, I ask again: If they KNEW the bird was injured when they found it, WHY wasn’t a vet consulted AT THAT POINT? I know for a fact most of the vets in that area refer either to LWR or to a wildlife center not licensed for birds that then refers to LWR.
I debated euthanizing that night but opted to wait till the morning, so I could get x-rays, just to give you graphic proof of what a crap diet does, and so you understand the seriousness of MBD. It causes the bones to be so brittle that even the normal wing flapping in the nest that a bird does to strengthen his wings for eventual fledging causes fractures. Merely attempting to stand will break the legs. The bird is in severe pain, but you’ll never know this, as birds hide their pain well as a matter of survival in the wild. Eventually, the bird will die an excruciatingly painful death, if not euthanized first.
Below are the x-rays, courtesy of Smalley’s Animal Hospital. I circled or pointed to the fractures in both legs and wings. Vet Peggy Hobby was appalled at the condition of the poor jay and observed that on the elbow of the left wing, the joint had basically disintegrated—and we didn’t even x-ray the body to see how may ribs might have been fractured.
And a non-driving teen emailed just this morning with a very valid question: What do you do when you can’t drive yet but find wildlife in need of help?
Answer: You ask your parents or another trusted adult if they’ll transport the wildlife to a rehabber.
It’s impossible for rehabbers to be out picking up wildlife all day, from a financial standpoint—because we don’t get paid for what we do—and because if we’re on the road all day, who’s taking care of the wildlife we currently have under our care? For instance, in order for me to drive to Macon, 65 miles away, I’d either have to load a dozen birds into the car, stressing them out, or leave them at home with no one to feed them, also stressing them out AND starving them. Neither is an acceptable option because neither serves the best interest of the wildlife. I will, when possible, drive a short distance to meet someone—the distance I can manage between feedings, which is about 15 miles.
Off the soapbox now and on to updates on last week’s activity…
The cardinals have grown like little feathered weeds and are now ready for the flight pen. Just look at these darlings!
A fourth mocker, fed a slightly better emergency diet for longer than the recommended 12-24 hours, is doing well and in the flight pen now.
Again, folks, cats belong INDOORS. They KILL wildlife. Just last week, colleagues at Chattahoochee Nature Center in the metro-Atlanta area got in a juvenile red-tailed hawk that had been mauled by several cats; it died shortly after intake. We don’t preach “cats indoors” to hear ourselves talk, people. Keep the moggies INSIDE for their safety and that of our native wildlife!