WARNING! This is a post about an injured peregrine falcon we met earlier this month. This post covers some of her recovery. Some photos might be a tad gross for those who may be eating or have a problem with needles. Just an FYI.
Alana Shrubsole-Cockwill, the vet overseeing the injured peregrine falcon I've been blogging about, called me this morning to let me know that she was going to check on the bird to see how she was doing. When I arrived at The Raptor Center, Alana was working on a red-tailed hawk with an injured wing in the above photo. After she checked the injury, she extended the wing to keep the muscles from permanently contracting.
The red-tail was passage (first year) and huge! That's Steve Sutter hold her up. He volunteers in clinic at TRC. Clinic volunteers come in once a week, feed and clean birds in recovery and hold birds while the vets check them out.
Steve's job is to get the falcon and then when she is under anesthesia, he still holds onto her feet--on the off chance she isn't completely under, she won't grab the vet or flail around and risk further injury.
Some good news is that the bruising has gone down! Some may remember from last time that the bird's leg was bright green from bruising. The flesh looked healthy pink and you can see pin feathers growing in (her leg feathers had to be removed before surgery--kind of like when humans need to be shaved on a body part about to be operated on.
Something I didn't mention last time was that the foot, just below the break was red, and Alana mentioned that it might be some type of vascular compromise--maybe the blood vessels were damaged when the bird flew into the nets or transported or as a result of the injury. If you look at the photo of the leg from last time, you will note just below the green that the foot was red. Today, all the redness was gone, so the blood flow is good. After that, Alana moved the leg around. I asked if the moving the leg around was for the same reason she was extending the red-tail's injured wing, but she said she was checking for stiffness. I got a video of her extending the leg and talking about what she's doing:
I will say this, Alana does a great job of explaining what she's doing, she's a good teacher. Since I'm an education volunteer at TRC and not a clinic volunteer like Steve, I don't know all the lingo and what they are doing and why. She very naturally will explain what she's doing and do it in way so that you don't feel like a complete dunderhead.
Because the falcon was going to be putting more weight on her good leg as opposed her broken leg, care had to be taken to keep her from getting bumblefoot and her good foot was wrapped in surgical and duct tape. But what is a bored falcon to do when it can't migrate and hunt and has to sit in a dark box all day--why try and rip at the tape off her toes! Note the mangled mess above. Alana removed the tape:
The bottom of the foot looked good, no signs of bumblefoot! You know how I love to smell birds? Alana told me to smell the falcon foot. I have now experienced that bad bird smell--her feet were stanky! Which is weird because birds don't sweat like humans so it's not like she had sweaty toes in gym socks. It's a combination of the foot being wrapped, probably getting some food bits and poop in there. Alana washed it off and rewrapped the toes. Who knew birds can get stinky feet?
If you look at this photo, you can see little tabs of duct tape--the tabs are there on purpose. She's going to pick at it anyway, might as well give tabs to keep her busy to keep her from ripping it all off her toes.
One thing I haven't mentioned that you may have noticed on the red-tail and on the falcon are the envelopes on their tails. By sliding this over the raptor tails, this prevents them from breaking tail feathers during their recovery. They are in small boxes to prevent them from moving too much too soon. But sometimes an antsy raptor is going thrash about in the clinic cages, so this just helps protect those important rudder feathers.
Here's Alana and Steve with peregrine 568 at the end of her exam. She's perkier, her weight is up and she doesn't need to be hand fed. Alana is going to do an X-Ray next Tuesday to see how the bone has healed and to determine what the next stage will be in her recovery process.
Again, if you enjoy following peregrine 568's story, please consider contributing to her recovery at TRC. I've yet to meet a raptor with health coverage and TRC relies on donations to treat the over 800 birds they see in a year.