A ‘Small’ Procedure

Every bird that comes into VINS Wildlife Services for treatment receives a patient number. It’s great for keeping track of multiple birds of the same species, not to mention it’s the best way to maintain clear records of each bird’s examination and treatment papers. The first two numbers represent the current year, and the last numbers represent the chronological order in which the birds are admitted to Wildlife Services.

Patient #09-046, the 46th patient of 2009, is a black-capped chickadee. He was attacked by a cat, and sustained a broken wing and possible puncture wounds from the cat’s teeth. Cat attacks can be serious, as a bacterium in cat saliva can be toxic to birds. We automatically put birds who have sustained cat attacks on antibiotics.

Now, examining a chickadee’s wing is something of a special project. As you can imagine, chickadees have very tiny, toothpick-like bones in their wings, and deciphering which bone is broken and the location of the break on the bone is no small feat. Without x-ray equipment, we must carefully probe the wings with our fingers, feeling for the break. To top it off, we must work quickly to minimize stress and pain to the bird. Afterall, this bird weighs a mere 10 grams and his tiny heart can only take so much stress.

After figuring out which bone was broken, we wrapped his wing up so it could begin to heal. Chickadee #09-046 also was given homeopathics to reduce the swelling around the break area. Watch our videos to see us unwrapping the wing wrap to check the bone, and rewrapping it to give the bird’s bone more time to heal.

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