Monday, February 9, 2009

This Week at Liberty 02/09/2009

It was a fairly calm week at the facility, with a few significant things going on.  I’ll give you a couple of updates on previous patients, aone or two educational updates, and hopefully an informative item about the process of “Imping” feathers. So, without further verbosity or ado, here we go…!

Western screech owl.
A late arrival is this little western screech owl. Actually, the call specified a “baby great horned” but since it’s waaaayyy too early even for GHO’s to be doing the wild(life) thing, I figured it was going to be something else. His condition is still in question, but he seems to have a wing injury from a fall from a tree, with some sort of unspecified cat involvement. I’ll keep you updated.
Misty holds the ferruginous hawk.
Though his wing was lost, his new career is soon to begin. 
The ferruginous hawk that came in several weeks ago survived his first surgery in which a pin was installed in a badly broken wing.  Then the pin was removed and a further evaluation showed the presence of aspergillosis.  This weakened and inhibited proper healing of the bone and a few days ago, the wing was amputated. Though his career as a top-of-the-food-chain predator is over, he will certainly be placed when he recovers from the last surgery and will live a long life as a teacher!
Joe and Libby at Chester's Harley-Davidson. 
In preparation for our upcoming 2nd annual Born 2B Wild motorcycle run, Liberty had a presence at Chester’s Harley-Davidson in Mesa last Saturday.  Lady Liberty and Apache showed the assembled bikers what real eagles look and sound like. The birds were almost as powerful a draw as the chili contest!
Joe and Sonora keep at it. 
And when Joe Miller isn’t showing of Libby, he’s still hard at training her younger counterpart, Sonora who is now learning to fly to the perch out in front of the facility. The passing motorists get an eyeful as Sonora spreads her wings and flies by next to the road.
Misty brings out a harris' hawk for a check-up.
A Schroeder-Thomas splint.
"Now I can stand up!" 
We are currently treating a harris’ hawk who had a simple leg fracture. Since the bones were not protruding and were aligned properly, a device called a Schroeder-Thomas splint was used. This external brace allows the bird to stand on the broken leg and still keep the bones securely aligned during the healing process. It consists of couple of stiff wires that form a hoop at the top and a bow at the bottom.  The entire apparatus is padded and secured with vet-wrap and tape.
Lots of broken tail feathers.
A good variety of spare parts...
"I believe we have this in your size!"
Both ends are cut to match.
A drill cleans out the shaft.
A supporting strut (toothpick!) is inserted...
then trimmed to size...
and finally cemented in place with super glue.

The finished product!

"Just wait until I get out of here...!!
People always ask why we can’t give a bird a prosthetic wing if it loses one. The problems are many, but in fact there are some appendages that can be replaced with “spare parts” namely, feathers.  Robbie and Shannon, our two master falconer consultants, are doing some work for Liberty since they came to town a few days ago, and one of their birds, an owl named Archimedes had several broken tail feathers.  With our supply of freshly molted owl feathers, Shannon matched and cut new plumage, and then after cleaning the shafts with a small drill, glued a wooden strut (read: toothpick!) into the hollow ends.  Voila!  Instant tail feather! This process is called “imping” and is used when the feather must be replaced before the next molt.

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