Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Leg Hold Trapped Eagle Update, New Leg Hold Trapped Great-horned Owl Admitted

( Photo: Don holds the Bald Eagle caught in a leg hold trap in late October.)

Our patient, the Bald Eagle caught in a leg hold trap in late October has become an emotional favorite not only with REGI staff but with our facebook and blog public too. Our weather has been unseasonably warm this week so yesterday he was transferred to an outdoor flight. This is in anticipation of his eventual release. He has come a long way since he was admitted.

Honestly, I never thought I would see the day when he was flying again as he is today. You might recall his wings were badly battered as he struggled to stay afloat during the three days he spend in the Wisconsin River. He is still not "out of the woods" and will come back indoors when the weather turns frigid later this week. For now however he is outdoors for the first time since he was admitted.

While all of our patients are special, this Bald Eagle is even more so than most. His is incredibly patient with us and his predicament. I wish I could share with everyone just how amazing he is. For the few folks that have seen this eagle in person, you know exactly what I mean.

( Photo: The Bald Eagle is finally outdoors after his harrowing ordeal. Notice he is looking at his feet. I cannot help but wonder what he is thinking.)

Physically, "Trapper" has not gained the weight I hoped he would. He weighs 7lbs. 11ozs.and is significantly underweight for a male northern Bald Eagle . The good news is that is still 2 lbs more than he weighed when admitted. His foot is still swollen and tender. He still suffers from physiologic stress, but is making progress. I will continue to update you on his progress.

If he makes it through the many hurdles left before he regains full health, we will have to have a huge celebration. We keep our fingers crossed for the day his release to the wild becomes reality.

( Photo: This Great-horned Owl that was caught in a leg hold trap that was apparently set for squirrels in Grand Rapids, WI late last week.)

The theme of leg hold trapped birds continued this week as a Great-horned Owl was admitted from the Grand Rapids area. The trapping injuries are usually accidental with the birds being a "non-target species" when it is trapped. Sadly, even with an accidental trapping, the result is still devastating for the birds and REGI's budget.

Our thanks to friend and fellow wildlife rehabilitator Nicki Christianson and Officer Roe of the Grand Rapids, WI Police Department for rescuing this owl and to Nicki for doing emergency care before the owl was transferred to REGI. The owl suffered substantial blood loss. He is beginning to eat his own however and we hope he will regain his strength soon. His foot has serious injuries, including a fractured toe and foot. We hope for a quick rehab on this bird as it is an adult male.

Winter is am important time in the life of a Great-horned Owl. It is now that they begin to cement their "pair bonding" in anticipation of nesting which occurs in January of February even in our region. We will update you on his progress. We will know better in a few days how quickly the foot will recover. Not only will the bones have to heal but he will need to regain full movement of the toes as well to be a successful hunter.

Raptors hunt and live by their powerful talons. Releasing a bird without his full griping power compromises their hunting ability. Often raptors with injures such as these, die of starvation in the wild. They are not able to hunt and therefore unable to feed themselves or their family if they are injured during nesting season.

( Photo: Great-horned Owl suffered a injury to his leg and talons when caught in a leg hold trap.)

Many thanks to my staff and volunteers that took charge at REGI last week while I enjoyed family time in the form of an early Thanksgiving with our family in the southern part of the U.S. Our great staff allows us to truly relax and enjoy the time away while knowing the patients and resident birds at home are getting the best of care.

Have a great day everyone.
Marge Gibson © 2009

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