Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Am I Here?

This is the Question we at the World Bird Sanctuary wildlife hospital sometimes ask ourselves when times are tough.

Winter can be tough on us, as well as wild animals.  Just as we are susceptible to heatstroke and frostbite, wildlife can also get sick and injured from harsh weather.  Wild animals don’t have a magic shield that protects them from the extremes of our world’s climate, even though sometimes it seems they do better than us when it comes to surviving outside.  Animals burrow underground, migrate south and have thick fur or feathers.  All of these things help them deal with the cold.

As you can see from the photo this bird is missing most of its major flight and tail feathers (photo: Gay Schroer)

We recently admitted a Bald Eagle to the Kathryn G. Favre wildlife hospital, which would not have survived the winter, even though there are thousands of eagles in the Midwest this year. 

This eagle slowly lost all its major wing feathers.  Most eagles molt all the feathers on their bodies over a two-year period. This particular eagle was found starving to death because it had lost so many feathers it could not fly, hunt or keep its body insulated from the elements.  After we acquired the bird, it continued to lose the remaining feathers.  When new ones would start to grow in, for some reason the eagle’s body would reject the feathers before they even developed.  

Without tail feathers and primary flight feathers this bird could not fly (photo: Gay Schroer)

We are not sure what caused this odd feather loss.  We are running tests and treating the bird with vitamins, antibiotics and rich meats.  These treatments sometimes induce a bird to molt, which we are hopeful will result in a new growth of normal feathers; only time will tell.  We know that we have a long fight ahead of us.

The deteriorated feathers on his body could not provide insulation from the cold (photo: Gay Schroer)

This eagle would have surely died of frostbite if a number of individuals had not intervened to get the bird to the proper authorities.  This bird does not understand that we are trying to help him.  With daily treatment eagles will defend themselves when we try to restrain them to administer medication.  These are the challenges we face when trying to save a Bald Eagle.  

We here in the wildlife hospital are always focused on the end goal—seeing the bird returned to the wild.  This is why I am here! 

If you would like to sponsor a Return to the Wild Click Here—or call 636-225-4390 to be routed to the proper person for more information.

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, World Bird Sanctuary Wildlife Hospital Manager

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