Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nadia, the Great Blue Heron...

We have in our care, a gorgeous female Great Blue Heron, whom we've named Nadia.
She came in several days ago, found in Moab, Utah. She had been observed hanging around in peoples yards, particularly those with small ponds. Now, those who know Great Blue Herons know that they like to go to small ponds and dine, but this gal had been hanging around far too long, not flying in and out, but walking. So, I asked some friends to try and catch her. They are very knowledgeable bird people and agreed.

Since they were able to catch her, something was obviously wrong. They drove her to Green River and I met them there.
Upon her exam, I found several fractures in her left wing and possibly up in that shoulder as well. We drove her to our vet's office after a couple of days (he wasn't working) and got the much needed x-rays. Turns out there are several closed fractures of the radius, all mid shaft and the clavicle and corocoid are dislocated. That was the swelling I felt up around the shoulder. And guess what caused all of this? She had been shot. Oh yes, another lovely gunshot victim. This is ridiculous. I have never seen this many gunshot cases in such a short time. It is obviously steel shot, so idiot waterfowl hunters shooting just to shoot. Poor little girl.

We put her on pain medication and the vet feels the clavicle and corocoid dislocation may not ground her. Time will only tell, but her felt that surgical intervention would not increase her odds of release, with either injury, so no surgery will be performed at this point. The radius fractures will heal with the ulna acting as a natural splint. Handling these type of fractures this way is quite common, so we just need to limit her movement as best as possible while healing.
She is still not eating willingly, so unfortunately, we are having to catch her twice a day to feed and medicate her. This is difficult since we want to keep her as still as we can, but we can't let her get too thin either. Sigh.
One day while feeding her, I noticed silver in her fleshy area in her 'mouth'. With all of the fish we had been putting down her, another piece of the steel shot had revealed itself. I grabbed some tweezers and pulled it out before she could swallow it.
I anticipate she will be with us for at least 8 more weeks. That should make it right with migration. The Moab area is a warmer part of Utah, so she could have stayed there the entire winter had this not happened.
That's today's update, more in a few more days.

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Feathered brothers and sisters, you came to us broken and as you bled…….we saw you desperate, dehydrated, desiccated, diseased, distressed, emaciated, famished, frayed, frightened, helpless, hungry, ragged, ravenous, shaken, shocked, shot, sickly, stressed, stunned, tattered, thirsty, traumatized, torn, weary and wounded. Defiantly, you stood us off with your last breath as we tried to tend to you. We saw you come in as cute, naked, fuzzy, cuddly youth, as mischievous, defiant adolescents, as fierce, regal rulers of the sky and as cunning, maimed elders whose time on earth was almost done. You endeared yourselves to us, bit us, charmed us, footed us, delighted us, hissed at us, talked to us, mantled at us, and graced us with your presence.

Some of you mended and were able to go on your way, never looking back. Some of you were injured in ways that prevented you from going, so you stayed with us to teach us…….And we came to love you. Others were too far gone, and you went home - where you fly free from pain with the Great One. All of you have touched us, and we are changed because of you.

used with permission by Arlene Powers