This Osprey was tangled in fishing line that tethered her to a wharf, just across the bridge from WildCare. A local raptor expert rescued her, and brought her to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital.
Once the bird arrived at WildCare, our veterinarian, Dr. Juliana Sorem, evaluated the wounds. Sometimes it is possible to lightly sedate the wildlife patient and snip away tangled fishing line with minimal effort, but this bird had obviously had the line around her leg for many days. The wound was swollen, inflamed and black with dried blood, and the line was deeply embedded. Dr. Sorem made the decision to intubate the Osprey for surgery to give her the best chance of removing all of the embedded filament.
Watch this bird's intake exam, intubation and surgery in the video below!
The surgery was a success! Dr. Sorem removed all of the line, cleaned the wound, and bandaged it thoroughly with antiseptic treatments and bandages. She gave the bird pain medications, and placed her on a regimen of antibiotics.
Dr. Sorem noted in the Osprey's chart that "There is an approx. 1 cm-wide band where the skin is missing over the wound; this is not closable and will need to granulate in." This type of wound requires time to heal, but keeping an Osprey in captivity for the duration required for that to happen is next to impossible. Osprey can be very challenging patients because they are extremely high stress birds and they often will not eat while in care. This bird was no exception, refusing to even sample any of the tempting fish WildCare staff offered.
So, while she was in care, medical staff provided daily medication and wound care, and they also had to catch the large and increasingly feisty bird multiple times a day to feed her by hand to ensure she received enough nutrition to support healing.
After one week in care, the wound on the bird's leg had scabbed over well, and the team began discussing the relative merits of continuing to keep her in care, versus releasing her with the leg wound still healing. Five days on antibiotics had reduced the risks of infection, and seeing the bird's primary flight feathers beginning to fray from being in the enclosure, our team brought the Osprey to our sister organization, Sonoma County Wildlife, to be flight tested in their large aviary.
The bird flew successfully, putting to rest the concerns that her time entangled in the fishing line, followed by a week in care at WildCare, had reduced her fitness to a dangerous degree. Watching her able to take off, land, and fly throughout the space put our team's fears to rest, so Dr. Sorem gave the bird an injection of long-lasting antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications just to reinforce her healing, and we called her rescuer, Craig Nikitas at Bay Raptor Rescue, who took the bird back to where she was found. He released her, and watched her soar away across the Bay. Watch the video below!
Our success with this beautiful Osprey is especially exciting for WildCare due to the very challenging nature of the species, and her story also illustrates the risks to wildlife of improperly-discarded fishing line. On an almost daily basis, WildCare admits patients with entanglement injuries. Properly disposing of fishing line and netting by rolling it up tightly and sealing the tightly-rolled bundle in a closed bag or bin will help prevent injuries like the one that nearly killed this Osprey. In fact, animals can get tangled in almost anything! Even human hair, if it gets wrapped around a bird's feet, can cause deep wounds and even painful toe amputations!
Remember that animals can and will get entangled in ANYTHING string- or net-like, and properly dispose of anything that presents an entanglement risk to wildlife.
Animals like this Osprey are in care for weeks or even months, and the costs for their care increase with the time they are at WildCare.
Your monthly donation will support the life-saving care animals like this beautiful raptor need until they have healed and returned to the wild.