A Vet in the Hand...

If you are a long-time supporter of our work at S.O.S, then you will be aware that our main area of concern is the care, rescue and rehabilitation of injured wild owls and other raptors from around the region.

But you have recently joined the ranks, hopefully this particular Blog story will give you some idea of the specialised work we do, often - but not always - with a successful outcome.

Throughout the course of the year we have many injured wild Owls and other birds of prey brought in to us for inspection, usually by concerned members of the general public. For the most part we are able to treat the birds ourselves in our purpose-built Raptor Hospital, a facility which was recently fully refurbished thanks the funding of your generous donations.

When an injured bird arrives at the centre, we firstly enter the details of the circumstances & conditions of the creature into our register before giving them a quick physical assessment, looking for obvious signs of external damage. Then we check for bone fractures, concussion and other aliments, relying on our accumulated experience of identifying minor injuries that have crossed our path over the years.

But whilst we are able to deal with many of these instances, we also receive many cases which require the attentions of a higher authority in avian medicine - the veterinarian.

Such was the case this week, when we were brought a Tawny Owl which arrived in a very poor state indeed. We could see immediately that this particular individual had a badly broken wing, probably - as the bird was picked up by the road-side - the result of a collision with a vehicle of some sort. The unfortunate bird also had signs of a condition called 'frounce', which swells the throat and makes it hard for them to swallow.

Without hesitation, we decided to take the casualty straight to out local veterinary practice, the Stowe Veterinary Group in Stowmarket, who are always willing to give us first rate & usually preferential assistance when it comes to wild raptor care. Here, vet Bill Besley confirmed our suspicions on both counts. Of particular concern was the frounce, or Trichomoniasis to give it its proper name, because - as it can make feeding difficult - it can compromise the birds natural ability to heal itself. The disease is increasingly prevalent pigeon and dove populations and it seems likely that this particular Tawny Owl picked it up by injesting an infected bird of this type.

It is possible to treat frounce if caught in the early stages but the course of care is fairly intensive and drawn out, including medication twice daily and hydration by crop tube every hour, which can cause no small degree of distress and discomfort. Unfortunately, for this particular Owl the prognosis was not good, and in the end the vet recommended it would be kinder to end its suffering than make it endure a very long recovery period with no guarantee of a successful return to the wild or a worthwhile quality of life.

So - win some, lose some. Next time, hopefully we will be luckier.