Monday, June 20, 2011

Rick Schubert's news on the injured hawk

Rick Schubert sent this update tonight on the diagnosis and treatment for the injured eyass that was rescued on Friday from the nest:

"As you may know, last Friday, at the request of the Franklin Institute, we climbed out on the ledge and removed the injured bird and brought it back to our clinic for an evaluation, first aid care, and fluid therapy.  We determined the animal had a fractured leg (actually, what people colloquially refer to as a bird's "leg" is really its foot, and what people call the foot is really just the toes).  I carefully straightened it out and put a splint on it, which is a temporary immobilization device, a first-aid measure, until it could be properly X-rayed and set.  This keeps the fracture from becoming unfixably worse or tearing tissue.

Michele Wellard, assistant director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic, took the animal to the wonderful Animal and Bird Healthcare Center and Hospital in Cherry Hill, NJ.  There, the amazing Dr. Boutette and Dr. Dazen treated the animal pro bono for us.  The radiograph showed that the bird has a fracture of the proximal tarsometatarsus bone.  Then the good doctors set the bone and put it on a regimen of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain meds.

Dr. Boutette remarked that he is 100% certain that this fracture happened from the animal landing on fact, he has never seen a fracture on a bird present itself with this specific signature that was not the result of landing hard on concrete.  We were very sad to hear this, but validated that our deduction was correct.  It explains everything that the Hawkwatchers observed with this bird.  If left alone, it would have died.

The bird is back in our care at the wildlife clinic and will remain so until the time of its release.  We still have a lot of work to do, but cross your fingers that everything works out OK.  This was a real team effort, with Gene from the Franklin Institute (who held onto my leg so that I did not fall off the ledge and go 'splat' on Winter Street), Della, Caroline and Michele all playing critical roles.  I especially cannot thank Drs. Dazen and Boutette enough for their generosity and skill, both for this bird and for all the "non-celebrity" birds that they treat free of charge for our little nonprofit clinic.

We are all very well aware that so many fledgling hawks do not survive their first year.  That's the way of nature.  But what happened was not this bird's is not genetically weak or inferior, and we are not tampering with the gene pool.  We are all giving back to this bird the chance at life that nature intended...just a chance, not a guarantee.  To the wonderful Hawkwatchers I would like to say, it's always OK to care.  Caring is a good thing.  Could use a bit more of it in the world."


  1. Many thanks to the many who helped this bird to be treated, rehibilitated and cared for. Rick's commentary answers all of the questions and concerns. Janet Wlodek aka colibri57

  2. Ouch. Poor eyass. Then again, LUCKY eyass to be born with the best possible resources to help it survive.

    It started off in good shape with a pair of excellent parents to keep it well-fed and safe. Then, thanks to the nest's location at the Franklin Institute, it has even more resources in the form of some VERY proactive humans monitoring its progress closely, with the goal of giving it the best possible shot at surviving.

    Most wild eyasses haven't got what "our" birds have. Heck, #3 has even got anti-inflammatories to help it feel better during the recovery process.

    Now it's up to Mother Nature and time to heal that injury. Hats off to Rick, the vets, and everyone else who is helping #3 get back on track. I guess this is one way that we humans can set the balance right -- our concrete made for a dangerous landing surface, so it's only fair to use our veterinary care to help patch the injuries the concrete causes. Say, has anyone suggested to the FI to go all lawn, all the time? ;-)

  3. Thank you all for all you do.Yes we can all do with more caring people like you. God Bless
    T. Cook of New York

  4. Thanks so much for the update.
    Hoping along with everyone that this eyass heals
    and gets back to a long healthy life.

  5. It's kind of funny you would feel you have to justify saving an injured bird! (I am following the conversations, so I understand your care in explaining.) Not to rural rehabbers: We urban dwellers may seem impossibly naive, but we understand all too well how cruel life can be. Urban wildlife start out with so many strikes against them, I can't imagine that giving this one small bird a break will upset the natural order so much. Thx for the update.

  6. Della--as a long time lurker on the various hawk sites I want to pass along my thanks to you for such a wonderful blog.

  7. Della - Thanks to you and all the hawkaholics
    and friends who make it possible for us to follow
    the story of these wonderful hawks! And to the
    educators and rescuers who help so much! Just a
    thought - although we don't know the fate of this
    one bird, it would be interesting to hear from
    Rick how SVNC would typically "rehab" an injured
    eyass like this one after its fracture heals. How to teach it to hunt, for example, and get it ready to reintroduce into the wild. Just a thought! Thanks again!

  8. Rick,
    What a touching report on #3. Thank You. Thank you for clarifying info
    re the gene pool and establishing that this little bird is NOT genetically deficient. Thank you for affirming that caring is OK and that we need more of it. Thank you for your sensitivity and for the wonder that you found a way to express it usefully in the world. Thank you for keeping us posted. And thank you--and the doctors--for helping this little bird.
    UWestsider (from the NYU Hawk cam livestream)

  9. Thanks for the update!

  10. I am a silent observer who cares so much about these hawks, a great big thanks for all you have done for them. If all of us would make the effort to care for what is around us in our world, what a better place it would be for people and our feathered or furred friends! Thank you for being such good examples to all!

  11. First; thanks for maintaining such a wonderful blog. Second; I totally agree with you about helping this particular (URBAN) Eyass. Seeing as how human development is what caused it's species to have to adjust to less than ideal conditions, and seeing as how there is nothing genetically deficient with this particular bird, I see nothing wrong with correcting what would not have happened in nature in the first place. for example, if it had fledged too early in my back yard, it would have landed in nice loamy forest floor, and had the ability and opportunity to make it up any one of the small trees to marshal it's strength. No guarantee of survival, but no broken bones either.

    Anyway, thanks for your effort in keeping us informed. I can't wait to read the updates on how the recovery is going, and the efforts to teach this eyass to hunt, and the other processes towards being reintroduced to the wild, etc.

    Sincerely; AdrieWG

  12. Rick Schubert's eloquence matches his remarkable skill as a wildlife rehabilitator. He is the personification of caring. All of us remote hawkwatchers are grateful for the diverse and dedicated team of Franklin Institute hawk facilitators who keep us informed, updated, visually in the flow, and in the case of #3's puzzling lethargy, vastly relieved that it has finally been resolved! A huge thank you to all.

  13. Many thanks to all of you who cared for Braveheart (#3's name!). And, I have to say, that last paragraph on Rick Shubert's News is just beautiful!
    Best wishes!

  14. This is great news! I am so happy to know that there is a every reason to hope that our Squishy will recover and at some point be released back into the wild. Having watched Squishy on the ground for hours after her "fledge" and seeing her in such distress, I can only say that this is a great outcome! Thank you FI, Gene, Rick,the Drs, and everyone who has contributed to our Squishy's rescue and recovery effort...and of course to Della and all of our fabulous hawkaholic photographers for the wonderful documentation of this year's story. And so it continues......


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