On October 17, a man found a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe sitting in the middle of the road in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was able to capture the small waterbird and brought it to the Wildlife Center that same afternoon for treatment.
Pied-billed Grebes are aquatic diving birds with legs that are positioned far back on their bodies. While their leg placement is ideal for moving through water, it is more difficult for grebes to move on land. Grebes require a large body of water from which to take off; it’s not uncommon to find these birds stranded on or beside the road, particularly after heavy rains or ice storms. Sometimes, these birds simply need to be moved to a body of water; other times, they are injured in the impact of landing on a road or struggling to move off of the road.
In the case of grebe 19-3094, the veterinary team found that the bird had a fracture of the right orbit of its skull – the bony socket surrounding the eye. Dr. Claire, the Center’s veterinary intern, started treating the grebe with anti-inflammatories, fluids, and medicated eye drops. Due to the swollen tissue around the eye, it was difficult to assess the grebe’s vision; another set of radiographs and eye examination are scheduled for October 24.
The rehabilitation staff is swimming the grebe each day to assess and improve the grebe’s waterproofing. On October 22, the rehab team took the grebe to the A3 flight enclosure, where a large inflatable pool is set up. The grebe was unable to stay in the water very long; wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey noted that the grebe’s feathers became wet quickly.
The rehab staff will plan to swim the grebe three times a day and will offer fish during the swimming sessions to see if the grebe will hunt for itself. Keep an eye on Critter Cam 1 to see if you can catch one of these short swimming sessions!