Murphy’s Law kicked in after I made that statement in the last regular update! It was right after that that the bald eagle came in, followed by two chipmunks, five brown bats, an adult gray squirrel, a gunshot red tailed hawk, a HBC barred owl and a migrating Swainson’s thrush. Let’s start with the animal whose fate you’re probably most interested in: the eagle. She was released on Halloween and did beautifully. Below are some photos of her in rehab at Bubba & Friends and on the day of her release. Thanks to www.pikecountytimes.com and Paul Powers for permission to use their photos.
In a flight pen at Bubba & Friends
Bolting to freedom
There she goes!
Sadly, the GHO whose leg we were so hoping would heal properly had to be euthanized. X-rays showed that the leg was not healing at all, and there was definite nerve damage to that foot, as well. Adding to her problems, the strain of bearing her weight on that one good leg was starting to affect the foot. None of us wanted to make the call, but we knew it was necessary. At the risk of starting another rant, let me remind you that had some jerk called DNR for the number of the nearest rehabber when they first found her, instead of attempting to make a pet of her, this sad fate could have been avoided and she’d be out in the wild right now, choosing a mate and producing gorgeous babies.
On the gray squirrel front, LWR has just four babies remaining. Three are in release phase and one has several weeks to go before he’ll reach that point. Here are the two males who came in several weeks ago with bloody noses and a broken arm.
The flyers are also in release phase and are beginning to show an interest in the world outside their release cage, so they should have moved on by the next update. Catching them still long enough for photos is nigh-impossible these days; they’re like quicksilver. Here are a few fairly decent shots of them.
One chipmunk was released; the other had spinal damage and its back legs were useless. It was euthanized.
The five brown bats were healthy adults removed from an old house undergoing remodeling. Normally I transfer any rabies-vector species to someone who’s RVS licensed, but these were adults, so after conferring with an RVS-licensed rehabber, I decided to place the bats in one of my bat boxes, which local bats have steadfastly ignored, and hope that they’d hang around. Alas, the bat box was a nice layover, but they preferred the surrounding woods for permanent digs. Too bad—bats are excellent natural insect control.
The adult gray squirrel had spinal damage. She came in over the weekend and died before I could get her to the vet.
The barred owl flew into the grille of a vehicle, and the owner of the vehicle left him there all weekend, deciding on Monday that since the owl hadn’t “conveniently” died over the weekend, it was now an emergency. When I removed the owl from the grille, the radiator fan had made hamburger of his wing, so there was no humane option other than euthanasia.
Folks, if you hit ANY animal that you think is in your grille, please stop immediately. The damage may already be too severe for the animal to be saved, but there’s always a chance that’s not the case. Don’t let some bird or other animal sit in your grille and suffer for days—that’s cruel, inhumane and lots of other words I can’t use on a family-friendly site.
The Swainson’s thrush is a true Northern bird, breeding along the U.S.-Canada border and passing through Georgia on its way to South America for the winter. This gorgeous olive-drab bird was found in someone’s yard. He can’t use his legs at all, but X-rays showed nothing broken, so we’ve given a steroid injection and are giving him a day or two to see what happens. He’s very alert, but he’s also losing weight, which may not bode well for his survival chances.
The red tail is a first-year bird, most likely a late baby, as Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends says that photos I sent him indicate she’s not long out of the nest. Also, he says the behavior I’ve described—food aggression and “mantling,” or using her wings to hide her food while she eats—are signs of a very young bird.
She was found by the side of the road, unable to fly. Vet Shelley Baumann of Smalley’s Animal Hospital could find no injuries at first, but an X-ray showed two lead pellets lodged in her leg and wing. While they were recent injuries, pellets can lodge in the flesh/bone and not leave an external sign, meaning that the lead will continue to leach into the bird’s system and it will die slowly and painfully of lead poisoning. This young lady was already feeling the effects of lead poisoning when Shelley removed the pellets.
Within four hours of the removal of the lead pellets, however, she had perked up considerably and her appetite had most definitely returned. She’s doing well and had to stay with me until Steve could release the eagle and free up a flight pen for her. This week she goes to him for flight conditioning and eventual release.
How did she end up with pellets in her leg and wing? Looking at the X-rays, Steve & I are guessing that she was perched when someone—probably some unsupervised child who’d never been taught that if you don’t eat it, you don’t kill it—shot her leg. She flared her wing at the pain, and the little cretin shot her in the wing. This is why children don’t need to be around guns without adult supervision.
Just as a reminder, injuring/killing any bird protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, disturbing its nest or young, or having one of these protected birds in your possession without a permit is a violation of federal law. The MBTA protects all songbirds, including crows, and all birds of prey, which includes owls. If you see or know of someone who’s breaking the law, don’t hesitate to report them, as doing so could save a bird’s life. In Georgia the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Law Enforcement number is 404-679-7057; outside Georgia, check www.fws.gov under “Law Enforcement” for the number of the office nearest you. A even quicker solution is to call your local game warden or, in Georgia, the DNR hotline at 800-241-4113. State agencies cooperate fully with the feds on issues concerning the MBTA.