Last week, the Wildlife Center admitted an animal that rarely comes through our doors -- a Northern Bobwhite! The bobwhite had been found in the middle of an intersection in Essex County after she was likely hit by a car.
Northern Bobwhites are a species of quail that reside in native grasslands and agricultural fields in much of eastern North America. At roughly 10 inches tall and under half a pound, these birds primarily eat seeds, leaves, and during the breeding season, insects. Northern Bobwhites used to be quite abundant, but their population has declined sharply over the past 50 years due to habitat loss and degradation. Today, many states are trying to restore the bobwhite's native habitat in an attempt to replenish their "near threatened" population.
When the bobwhite arrived, veterinary intern Dr. Emma and her team performed a thorough physical exam. The bobwhite’s left tarsometatarsus (a long bone composing part of a bird’s leg) was found to be fractured, as seen in this radiograph. Though injuries like this can be treated, the bobwhite's small and delicate bone was unlikely to hold up with surgical repair, so Dr. Emma instead used splints to stabilize the fracture.
Note the fracture on the bottom right. The Northern Bobwhite getting a check-up. That delicate bone is only 3 mm thick!
Since intake, the veterinary team reports that this bobwhite is bright, responsive, and actively using her left limb -- all good signs. The prognosis for this bird remains guarded, however, as bobwhites are a highly stressed species in care, and only time will tell how well this injury heals. In the meantime, the bobwhite is enjoying her daily meals of finch seed, gamebird maintenance pellets, minced berries, and crickets.
The beak is not injured, she just has berries stuck on her beak.
If this bobwhite makes it to release, staff will choose a suitable release site close to where she was found to give her the best chance of success in the wild.