Northern Cardinal #17-0738

Admission Date: 
May 2, 2017
Release Date: 
June 3, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Nelson County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Stuck in a glue trap
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On May 1, an adult male Northern Cardinal was brought to a small animal veterinary hospital in Nelson County after the bird was stuck in a glue trap. The veterinary staff removed the bird from the glue trap by cutting the bird's feathers; because birds require intact feathers to fly, the cardinal could not be released after being freed from the glue trap. The bird was transferred to the Wildlife Center for continued care following the removal from the glue trap.

Cardinal #17-0738 was bright and alert during the initial exam; he escaped from his box during the initial exam, but he could not fly far because of his severely damaged feathers and was easily caught on the ground. The cardinal is in good body condition but had a sticky substance on the left side of his beak and face, on both feet, and on both wings. All of his tail feathers and primary wing feathers had been cut. 

The patient was anesthetized for radiographs, which showed no further injury. While under anesthesia, a small amount of mineral oil was used to remove the sticky substance from the face, feathers, and feet. The damaged tail and wing feathers were plucked at the base. This will help promote premature molting, as this patient will need to grow in new feathers to fly again. If a premature molt was not encouraged, this patient would need to molt naturally -- a process which might not happen for several months and would prolong his time in captivity.

The cardinal is receiving fluid therapy and pain medicine. Although the bird suffered no significant injuries, due to the cut feathers he will need to be in captivity for weeks or months to molt completely.

Glue traps are very dangerous to wildlife -- explore alternative, humane options. If you find an animal stuck in a glue trap, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice.

Your donation helps to provide for the specialized care for this cardinal, as well as the 2,500 animals that are admitted to the Center annually.


June 12, 2017

On May 29, the wildlife rehabilitation team checked the feathers of Northern Cardinal #17-0738. During the initial feather plucking, every other damaged feather was removed [as opposed to every feather] so that as the new feathers grew in, the shafts of the old feathers would act as a support system. This system worked very well; wildlife rehabilitator Brie was pleased to find that the plucked feathers were growing back in nicely. The rehab team decided that after a few more days, the cardinal could be released.

The bird was released on June 3, in the James River State Park in Nelson County.

May 16, 2017

Cardinal #17-0738 is doing well. He was moved to the outdoor Aviary on May 14. The cardinal will receive medication to treat coccidia (an internal parasite) for several days. The bird will remain at the Center until the pulled feathers grow in, at which time he will be flight-tested and prepared for release.