On June 8, a hatch-year Peregrine Falcon was found injured on the ground in Norfolk, Virginia after hitting the side of a building during flight. The bird was rescued that same day by permitted rehabilitator Lisa Barlow of Tidewater Rehabilitation and Environmental Education and was transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on June 9.
During the intake examination, veterinary intern Dr. Olivia found that the falcon had an increased respiratory rate and was quite stressed. While anesthetizing the bird for a complete exam, blood was observed within the trachea and mouth. Radiographs revealed internal bruising in several areas and fluid in the bird’s air sacs, both of which are consistent with significant internal trauma related to collisions. No injuries to the bird’s eyes were noted during an ophthalmic exam, and aside from possible soft-tissue damage near both shoulder joints, no external injuries or abnormalities were noted.
A blood sample was drawn for emergency testing and was analyzed in-house, revealing a sub-clinical level of lead toxicosis of 0.044 ppm -- meaning the young falcon had ingested lead at some point, but at a less critical level compared to severe cases. Raptors with a sub-clinical level of lead in their bloodstream may appear normal, but can still suffer damaging long-term effects if left untreated.
The veterinary team administered pain medications, anti-inflammatories, and fluids, and placed the falcon in a specialized oxygen-rich chamber within the Center’s indoor Hold area. Throughout the following week, the falcon received supportive care and lead toxicosis chelation therapy two times per day. For now, the young Peregrine Falcon will remain in Hold. Due to the severity of the internal trauma sustained, and Peregrine Falcons’ status as a high-stress species that often do not do well with this type of trauma in a rehabilitation setting, the prognosis for this patient is currently guarded.