November was a busy month, even though this is supposedly the “slow” season—well, I guess if you consider that I only had 7 intakes rather than the usual 25-35, it WAS a slow month…And December is already off to a bang, with an adult great horned owl coming in on the third day of the month… “Slow” is a relative term, I suppose…
Almost immediately after the November update, LWR received a juvenile black vulture who’d gotten caught in the razor wire at a nearby prison. Her foot was badly slashed but otherwise she was in pretty good shape, all things considered. Yeah, I know—you’re thinking, “A vulture?? A buzzard?? WHY would anyone rehab a buzzard????
Well, stop and consider the valuable service they provide: much like your intrepid rehabber, they clean up other people’s messes. Of course, where I try to compensate for general human stupidity (GHS), vultures benefit from GHS, as roadkill provides an easy source of food for them. And what would we do without them eating carcasses? Ever smelled a dead animal? Imagine that smell multiplied a thousand-fold if vultures didn’t eat roadkill and other dead animals—we’d be up to our eyeballs in rotting carcasses!
Anyway, the first words out of my mouth upon seeing Miss Vulture Babe were, “Damn, you’re ugly!” I’ll be the first to admit that vultures aren’t the most attractive birds out there, but what they lack in looks, they make up for in intelligence. Miss Vulture Babe was an aggressive little snot during her vet exam—she was quite hungry, as she didn’t get fed until AFTER the vet visit. I learned the hard way that vultures take a long time to digest their food and will quite willingly toss their cookies at the slightest provocation. Immediately upon arriving home, however, I fed her, and the effect was like flipping a switch. I. FED. HER. Now we were best buds! Tell me vultures ain’t smart!
And she kinda grew on me while she was with me, too, bless her ungainly little heart. It was especially endearing to walk in and find her sleeping, head tucked on her back. Look at those photos—isn’t she cute?
While Miss Vulture Babe and I were getting along famously, an adult female red tail hawk came in. Talk about aggressive to the nth degree! I can’t recall ever having a red tail so…so…just plain psycho! This lady didn’t care whether I fed her or not; she was out for blood. I even wore long protective gloves to toss her mice to her, as she made it quite clear from the get-go that my fingers would be just as tasty as the mice, as far as she was concerned.
Steve Hicks of Bubba & Friends raptor rehab, upon receiving both these birds, agreed that the red tail was insane; I believe he said he was calling her Slasher, after she nailed him several times the very first day he had her. We’re still not sure exactly what her physical problem was, as her x-rays showed no broken bones and she was well-fleshed. Steve says she’s flying well now, as are the two juvenile red tails from the last update that I transferred to him.
And we had another American coot come in. If you’ll recall, the last one had a jigsaw puzzle for a pelvis and had to be euthanized. This guy was luckier; he seems to’ve just crash-landed and needed a day or two to rest and recuperate. He was also quite an aggressive bird. Those funky feet hurt when he clawed with them, and the beak wasn’t much better. I don’t know who was happier when he was released, me or him. I suspect it was a draw!
On the evening of Nov. 30, I received an adult male screech owl, also a very lucky little fellow. He’d flown into the soft plastic window of a Jeep and had a nasty concussion as a result, but nothing was broken. He may have soft tissue damage—a strained tendon or something similar—which time may or may not heal.
And as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, just yesterday evening I received an adult female great horned owl. She is a gorgeous lady who appears to have a fairly common raptor parasite, capillaria, worms which fill the digestive tract and make the bird feel full even as it starves to death. She’s been started on treatment, which will continue when she’s transferred to Steve Hicks in the new few days. She ate well for me last night, on her own, which is a good sign that the treatment has started working.
As a final note, this will be the only update for December, as the frenzied holiday activities you normal people participate in will leave you little time for reading critter updates, anyway. Also, we “abnormal” rehabbers will be busy trying to start on our annual reports, cleaning and repairing caging for the upcoming rehab season, and taking inventory to see what supplies we need to order before “the season” kicks in for us. Holiday parties? A social life? I don’t understand these terms, at least not as they apply to me!