By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital
A broad-winged hawk was among the 55 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a wood stork, a black skimmer, eight brown pelicans, a common gallinule, a gray squirrel and two peninsula cooters.
The broad-winged hawk was found near a burrowing owl burrow on Marco Island late one evening. The hawk was lying down in the transport box, yet a physical exam showed the hawk was overall in good body condition. That exam showed the hawk was alert, but keeping its right eye partially closed and was reluctant to stand or use its legs. Staff administered arnica tincture and subcutaneous pain medications and performed laser therapy recommended for spinal trauma situations. Once the treatments were completed, the hawk was placed on oxygen in an animal intensive care unit to rest for the night.
Hospital staff added a vitamin supplement and Chinese herbs to the hawk’s treatment plan the following day. The hawk was able to stand but tended to fall over without support and used its tail to balance. The hawk eagerly ate when staff offered small pieces of mice. As the hawk’s mentation and awareness improved, so did its stress level. The hawk was more reactive to staff when its medical treatments were performed which made reducing stress the top priority. Our staff vet discontinued pain medications allowing staff to minimize handling. Currently, the hawk is receiving medication for an intestinal parasite while continuing to recover in the bird room.
Receiving prompt medical treatment is essential. Thankfully, the man who saw the hawk took action and brought the hawk to our facility for immediate medical attention. Please, if you see an injured, sick or orphaned animal, offer assistance. If you are unsure of how to help, call the wildlife hospital for guidance.
The day before Thanksgiving brought a need for assistance at the Wildlife Hospital. Hospital staff suspected a bald eagle suffering from a concussion would thrive if placed in an outdoor recovery enclosure that had minimal light exposure. Hospital staff approached Curtis Rimes, Senior Superintendent for Gates Construction, responsible for the Dalton Discovery Center expansion at the Conservancy Nature Center, to see if they had extra privacy screen we could place on the outside recovery space. Curtis immediately offered his time and the screening for us to retrofit the enclosure. Meeting the needs of our patients often takes community support; hospital staff sincerely appreciate Gates Construction for their help with this project.
A royal tern, a sandwich tern, an eastern cottontail, two gopher tortoises, a grey squirrel, a striped mud turtle and a southern flying squirrel were released this past week.
The flying squirrel release was exciting since they are a rare admission to the hospital.
Brian Beckner, Wildlife Hospital volunteer and owner of Native Bird Boxes, Inc., located two options that could serve as appropriate release sites near where the squirrel had been found. While southern flying squirrels can congregate in small groups, especially during cooler weather, the group occupying a bluebird box were not welcoming to ‘our’ flying squirrel. The second release site Brian had in mind was an abandoned Carolina wren nest box, which provided a great option for the flying squirrel’s reintroduction into the wild.