The Road to Recovery

By Katie Koerten
VINS Wildlife Services Intern

Vehicle collisions are the number one cause of admissions to our rehab facility at VINS. Otherwise healthy birds can sustain broken bones, head trauma and a host of other problems this way, and the prognosis is not always good.

The nitty gritty: watch a video of the owl’s wound care. The photo above shows how the owl looked when he first arrived at VINS.

For one barred owl, life was looking pretty grim upon his arrival at VINS: not only did he have head trauma, but internal bleeding and soft tissue wounds too. Most worrisome, however, was the fact that he couldn’t see, and as we all know, a barred owl that can’t see is an owl that can’t hunt. But we had hope; and since there were no troubling broken bones or other apparent severe internal injuries, we had good reason to remain optimistic about this owl.

We addressed the head trauma, vision loss and internal bleeding with homeopathic medicine and gave him a dose of anti-inflammatory to deal with any pain. His soft tissue wounds were of concern as they were large and vulnerable to infection. But in order to appropriately examine them, the owl would need to be anesthetized, which requires the patient to be in stable condition. Judging by his closed eyes, listless manner and the fact that he wasn’t standing on his own, he wasn’t there yet. Before long, though, things were looking up. In just a few days, the owl was standing on his own, wide-eyed and alert. Best of all he was responding to our movement, indicating his vision was back, at least partially. Since he was stable, we could begin to care for the wounds on his wings. See the owl’s wound get cleaned and bandaged in our video.

For now, the owl is receiving daily wound care as we continue to monitor his eyesight and overall health. We hope in time he’ll return to the wild an active, able-bodied barred with full vision.

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