Let’s start with the barred owl, as his situation is more quickly explained: He was found on the ground in a local WMA (wildlife management area), apparently unable to fly. A quick parking lot exam revealed swelling at the right elbow that was probably indicative of a fracture.
Richie came back in and I gently moved my arm up and down to make the barred flare his wings again. Richie’s reaction was the same as ours. Hmmm… He called for vet Jim Hobby to take a look. The barred did it again, powerfully flapping both wings perfectly levelly and in sync.
We all agreed to give him some time in the small flight pen to see what happens. If he can’t fly, we can always euthanize later, but once it’s done, you can’t take it back. So far he’s pretty much glued to one perch, although I know he can and does come down, as the mice I place in there overnight are gone the next morning. We’ll see…fingers crossed for this guy!
Now…if you’ll recall, the news wasn’t promising for Sir Screech last week, with the pupil in his good eye looking all weird and jagged. To my delighted surprise, however, after posting last week’s update I went to feed the little guy, and the eye looked perfectly normal. What the…???
Obviously, he went to the vet with the barred on Monday, where Richie and Jim could find no logical explanation for the smooth-jagged-smooth pupil. We dunno…Maybe we got that miracle you were all hoping for last week!
But Richie did tell me to bring him back Wednesday morning for his surgery. Remember, we knew we couldn’t save that right eye. It was ruptured; all that could be done was remove it to prevent potentially deadly infection. This is not something we’d normally do, to be honest. A bird with that extent of damage would normally be euthanized. We’ve done so in the past and will do so in the future.
So why not euthanize Sir Screech? His calm demeanor would make him an ideal educational bird, and he’d also make a good surrogate parent for screech babies. None of this is guaranteed, of course. It all depends on how he fares over the next few months. If we see his health is adversely affected or he seems unduly stressed by captivity, we’ll take the necessary action. But right now, we’re seriously leaning toward ed bird. Richie is as amazed as I am at how calm this little guy is and agrees that he’d be an excellent wildlife ambassador.
Sooo…back to the surgery…Wednesday morning, Richie was ready to work and I was ready to document his work with photos. Vet tech Betty Smith assisted Richie with gassing down and entubating our guy, after Richie crafted a makeshift and very serviceable tube when their smallest one was too big for Sir Screech’s airway.