CROW Case of the Week: Osprey (#21-6249)

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a large hawk that resides and lingers around nearly any body of water. Regarded as a great angler, this raptor has a unique diet of live fish and will dive with feet outstretched into the water to catch them. The osprey is smaller and more slender than a bald eagle. It is whiter in color than most raptors, especially in the chest and head areas. At CROW, an adult female osprey was admitted from Cape Coral with blood-stained feathers.
Upon initial examination, veterinarians found a wound in the upper left chest. The injury turned out to be a gunshot wound, and x-rays confirmed a pellet was lodged in the patient’s chest. “The osprey was found near a road, however, she likely may have traveled from the location where she was shot, so it is not possible to say for sure where the incident took place,” said Dr. Charlotte Cournoyer, CROW veterinary intern.
“We are not forensic scientists, but based on the wound location, it is likely she was shot while flying or from above.” It appears the patient will have a “souvenir” for the rest of its life. “The pellet entered near the shoulder and lodged itself between the keel – equivalent to sternum – and heart. Amazingly, it missed the heart and the major vessels surrounding, and did not fracture any bones,” said Dr. Cournoyer. “Due to the location, it is not possible to remove the pellet.” Luckily for the patient, the pellet did not hit any vital organs, and the patient appears to be doing great considering the circumstances.
The wound was flushed and bandaged. “We have been monitoring the entry wound for infection and treating with antibiotics, but the wound is healing very well,” said Dr. Cournoyer. “The patient is bright, alert, standing and eating on its own.” A tail guard was placed on the osprey for preventive reasons. “The tail guard is used to protect the tail from damage while the patient is in a cage. The tail feathers, or retrices, are incredibly important for steering when flying and if they were to break off, then the patient’s rehabilitation process would be extended,” said Dr. Cournoyer. The osprey’s wings appear to be unscathed and functioning well. “The wing does not seem to be affected as range of motion is normal, and she is holding this wing in a normal position,” stated Dr. Cournoyer.
“We performed daily bandage changes on the wound until it closed over, then continued to monitor for abscess formation, which did not occur.” The osprey was given pain medication and antibiotics, and its was monitored under supportive care. Dr. Laura Kellow, another CROW veterinary intern, reported that the patient was still eating well on her own, passed flight testing and, after only five days of being at the clinic, was released.
“The process of rehabilitation and flight conditioning is unique to each patient and their underlying injury. Luckily for this osprey, she was doing so well and flying readily and easily that on Christmas, she was released by the veterinarian who performed her triage exam and she was immediately joined by a male osprey in the sky on release,” Dr. Kellow said. “The perfect Christmas present for both her and us.” 

CROW Case of the Week stories are written by Bob Petcher and appear weekly in the Island Sun and River Weekly Newspapers.

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