Two Unusual Birds at WildCare

Unusual Birds at WildCare

Auklet at WildCare

Admitting an auklet to WildCare is an unusual occurrence, and this little bird caused some debate among staff when her size and weight seemed to indicate that she was a Least Auklet instead of the locally-breeding Cassin's Auklet.

The bird's rescuer brought her to WildCare after finding her grounded on a beach. She weighed in at only 82 grams, putting her far below the expected weight for a Cassin's Auklet, which is 150 - 200 grams.

Least Auklets are apparently one of the most abundant seabirds in the world, with a population count at around 9 million. But their habitat range is much farther north in Alaska and seeing one this far south would be a rare thing, indeed!

As it turns out, our rare bird was not quite as rare as we thought...  the pelagic bird experts at International Bird Rescue confirmed that she is a Cassin's Auklet. Her low weight is due to her young age and thin body condition.

Read more below...

Pileated Woodpecker at WildCare

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker species in North America (not counting the assumed-to-be-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker). We admit these strikingly large woodpeckers to the Wildlife Hospital very rarely; we have only cared for three of them in the last three years.

This juvenile Pileated Woodpecker came to WildCare with head trauma, a drooping wing and an injury to one eye. The bird may have hit a window, or he may have been struck by a car.

Radiographs diagnosed a broken coracoid (a bone below the collarbone on a bird), and an exam found blood in the injured eye. The position and condition of the broken bone had our team concerned that it wouldn't heal properly, but the bird's bright (and feisty!) attitude, his otherwise healthy body condition and his young age all boded well for his chance to heal from his injuries.

Read more below...

In the video above, the Pileated Woodpecker receives medications for pain and inflammation.

An eye exam by WildCare's Veterinarian, Dr. Sorem showed that there was blood in the anterior chamber of the eye, but when she used stain to check for ulcers on the corneal surface, no ulcers were found, which is good news. The treatment plan was to monitor the eye and re-examine in a few days. The eye remained slightly dry, so the team applied a lubricating ointment once a day.

Along with the wrapped wing, which would hopefully allow the broken coracoid to heal properly, the bird was also placed on twice-daily medications, which have become more and more challenging to administer as his health improves and his attitude becomes more feisty!

The wing wrap successfully stabilized the fracture, allowing the bird to sit upright and lean forward to eat mealworms, which he devours, often not even waiting for the volunteer or staff member to leave the enclosure before digging in.

However, the biggest challenge with an increasingly-active Pileated Woodpecker is keeping the bird contained! The bird has drilled giant holes in all the cages in which he was placed, including our stoutest woodpecker cage. He successfully escaped into the medical ward on multiple occasions.

Placing him in a larger enclosure with metal bars instead of mesh seems to have contained him for the time being, but our staff and volunteers look forward to the time that this handsome bird will have recovered from his injuries, allowing him to be released back to the wild!


In the video above, our team weighs the Cassin's Auklet prior to her transfer to International Bird Rescue.

Upon her admission to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital, our team was most concerned that the bird was hypothermic... she arrived cold and fluffed after spending an unknown amount of time on the cold sand of the beach.

Remember that a seabird on the beach is an animal in trouble!

Please call WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline at 415-456-7283 if you find a beached seabird. We can assist you in finding help for the animal.

Medical Staff heated towels and wrapped the bird in comforting warmth to raise her body temperature. Once she was warmed, they provided subcutaneous fluids to counteract the auklet's mild dehydration.

An exam found no injuries. The best explanation we have for why she was beached is that she is a late-season baby. The young bird was thin, so perhaps food stocks are low this late in the season (Audubon says that the "Cassin's Auklet's diet in breeding season includes euphausiid shrimp, amphipods, copepods, some small fish and squid") or perhaps she simply became separated from her mother.

Either way, she is now in the care of the pelagic bird experts at International Bird Rescue, where hopefully she will grow up healthy and be able to return to the wild.