A challenging patient

PATIENT:  Purple Martin, #10-1629 LOCATION:  Fort Defiance, Virginia CONDITIONUnable to fly ADMISSION DATE:  July 22 PROGNOSISReleased, August 5 On July 22, the Wildlife Center admitted a challenging patient --  a Purple Martin.  This young martin was found on the ground, unable to fly, in the Fort Defiance area of Augusta County.  The veterinary team's examination found swelling and bruising over a portion of the bird's right wing.  Radiographs confirmed a fracture in the right radius, a very important bone in the bird's wing structure.  After giving the martin pain meds, fluids, and anti-inflammatories, the vets at the Center prescribed a seemingly simple treatment -- cage rest, for at least two weeks. For most species the Wildlife Center treats, providing cage rest is fairly simple.   Cage rest for this patient was more challenging.  Because Purple Martins are aerial insectivores -- that is, they catch insects in the air as they fly -- providing enough food to maintain a healthy weight in captivity is no easy task.  Fortunately, #1629 was a fairly cooperative patient. For the first few stressful days, the rehab staff had to catch the bird to syringe-feed it,  but the martin soon began accepting a wide variety of dead insects from tweezers.  For the past two weeks the center's rehabilitation staff has been feeding the bird every 30 minutes throughout the day. Additional radiographs taken on August 4 showed that the fracture had stayed very nicely aligned throughout the cage rest period.  This came as a great relief to the veterinary staff; after all, Purple Martins depend on their speed and agility to migrate to the Amazon basin each fall!  After a quick and successful test flight session on August 5, Purple Martin #1629 was cleared for release.    RELEASE UPDATE:  On the afternoon of August 5, Center Licensed Veterinary Technician Leigh-Ann Horne took the Purple Martin to Verona, not far from where the bird was originally rescued.  She released the bird and reports that it flew off beautifully!  At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release.  Your donation will help support the Center’s life-saving work with about 2,500 wild animals in need.   

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