It’s been a few weeks since the last update and I think I’ve gone a period of 4 days sans patients since spring. Whew! I’m whooped, I’m broke but I’m happy.
Sonny, the Red-tailed hawk with the weird shoulder issue proved that she could overcome the odds and was successfully released, along with the Linda Blair stand-in, American Kestrel. Sometimes, it’s best of you pay closer attention to the bird, rather than the radiograph and vise versa as the case may be.
Sonny was a magnificent specimen. I pray she will live to crank out lots of babes!
Linda Blair, the American Kestrel…the falcon from the depths of Hades itself!
I was also able to release the Red-shouldered hawk that was rescued on the golf course. That went ever so well. When I first open the darkened box, I know they will be disoriented, so I try to open it near some trees so they can just sort of pop over and settle in. But not this bird…nooooo. She shot out of the box at Mach 3, banked right into the wind and flew all the way across the lake and then went up about 30 feet into some trees. We didn’t even have time to take pictures. She was flying very low over the lake with her wingtips almost touching the water (just like the scene from Lady Hawk!). While it was cool for the Good Samaritan to watch that very dramatic flight, I was just praying that she didn’t hit the drink, but she flew without missing a beat. It was awesome. The whole event took all of about 20 seconds and after she disappeared into the trees, I said, “THAT is what I do.” Thanks, Steve for caring enough to go out of your way to help me help this bird. For the privilege of living and working with animals that most people never get within a hundred feet of, I live hand to mouth. While the latter part of this equation sucks, I guess that is the trade-off to experience the former.
Beautiful release and I have high hopes for her future…
Another first year Red-tailed hawk has come into my life and boy, does she have a story to tell… I picked her up from a local 24 hour emergency clinic two weeks ago yesterday. Not a lot of history from the vet…just a cursory exam and no radiographs were done. Emergency clinics don’t care about raptors (wildlife in general) because they can’t make money off of them, but they will take a ‘wildlife donation’ from you in a heartbeat. (Don’t get me started on that touchy topic because the top of my red head will shoot off.) Anyway, the vet calls me that morning and tells me there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the bird, but it isn’t standing. Uh…did anyone else catch what I caught? But who am I to argue with the guy who has the letters after his name…their ego’s are SO delicate…and ya’ll know how I flunked out of Tact and Diplomacy School.
Well, by the time I got there she was standing, but barely, favoring her right leg and I also noticed that her right wing was lower than the left. The technicians remarked how calm she was…(keep reading and you’ll find out why). She was also starving to death. She would have not lasted a week longer if fate had not intervened. I felt the keel straight away to get an idea of what sort of living she was making because when the fat reserves are gone, they start to metabolize the pectoralis major muscles, or the flight muscles, that attach to the keel. As you run your finger down the center of their chest, the more bone you feel, the worse off they are in the prey finding department. She was in bad shape and was one of the 80% that wouldn’t have lived to see Christmas. She had been at this clinic for the better part of 15-18 hours with no food or water, (don’t get me started:) so I got busy when I returned home by giving her some oral and sub-q fluids. I tube fed her a high protein gruel stuff that is a lot easier to process and doesn’t require as much energy as processing whole prey items. Small, frequent amounts of this stuff until they start to gain their strength usually does the trick, unless they are so starved and dehydrated that they are in organ failure.
The next day I took her to my wonderful vet, David Martinez, at Loving Hands AH in Alpharetta. The radiographs were negative on her leg, but it looks like her Coracoid (bone the works the shoulder) is displaced. OK, maybe I can work with that, BUT she had blood in the back side of both of her eyes. (see why she was so calm in the cage???) This is NOT a good thing, because for those of you who have had the liner ‘float’ in your pool because water got up behind it, the same thing can happen to the bird’s retina when blood collects.
After I get the bird settled in, it is my general rule of thumb to call the Good Samaritan to follow up with them so that I may get more history and to also keep them in the loop as the bird progresses. Denise moved heaven and earth to get this bird to safety after it was hit by a vehicle on Ga. 400. She flagged down an Airport Shuttle Bus and he gave her a piece of carpet to wrap it in and she made a mad dash to her friend’s and then over to the Emergency Clinic.
Last Wednesday I decided to take the bird down to another wonderful vet, Tracey King, the vet. Ophthalmologist down in Marietta and the diagnosis was confirmed. There was still so much blood in the back of the right eye, she couldn’t even see the retina, much less tell if it’s been damaged. What she did see however, was that the lens in the right eye was subluxated. That means that when the bird was struck, she hit her head so hard that it broke some of the small attachments that holds the lens in place, which cannot be repaired. If this were a mature bird with life experiences, she might be able to compensate for losing 50% of her ability to see, but with her only about 5 months old, she definitely would not be a candidate for release.
So, it looks like I will be applying to keep her, as well. I guess it will take two Red-tailed hawks to fill my Mina’s shoes, but that’s ok. This hawk came into my life for a reason and we both came into the life of Denise, the Good Samaritan… Since I know the bird won’t be releasable, I am already training her to the glove and she’s coming along very well. Stay tuned.
Debbie Denise…isn’t that a great name for a great bird in honor of a great Good Samaritan?
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I am writing this today in memory of our long-time friend and cohort in crime, Robert “Case” Cason, Jr, who lost his battle with cancer last week. He was the type of friend that you could go literally, years, without hearing from, then just start up where you left off with a phone call or an email. None of his friends knew until the very end. That’s how he wanted it and so it goes….m.