Last week, a late evening call reported a medium-sized bird with a broken leg at a storage facility. The caller met me with the bird and a quick parking lot exam revealed it was an American coot with a nasty-looking open leg fracture.
Coots, like grebes and loons, look for water to land in, especially overnight. At dusk, in the rain, the water-coated roofs of the storage buildings and the surrounding asphalt must have looked just like a body of water to this poor coot, who apparently landed awkwardly and snapped his leg.
A more detailed exam once we were home led me to believe we might be able to save the coot, as the fracture was recent—still bleeding—and appeared to be mid-bone.
Please understand that this is not a sure thing by any means. The callus may have fused the fractured bones together at that awkward angle so that they cannot be repaired. They may shatter during the procedure. The possibility of her ever flying again is very slim, BUT… that small chance in this instance has been weighed and deemed worth the risk.
In the meantime, this laid-back lady has decided to try and eat me out of house and home, inhaling 4-6 jumbo mice a day. I’ve been jokingly threatening to toss a steer in the rehab bathroom with her, betting she’d be picking her beak with a rib bone the next day!
She’s sitting calmly on an open perch in the rehab bathroom—the raptor flight pen is still filled with screeches—and taking mice from the glove, very gently. This girl knows the drill, which makes her situation all the more infuriating to me and Steve Hicks, who’s recovering nicely from his recent heart attack.