Watch the Critter Cam Livestream

Oct 15, 2017 / General News

[critter cam - juvenile red-tailed hawk]

Now Livestreaming: Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

The University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic—a non-profit organization that provides care and treatment to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals—will feature a different patient each week on the Critter Cam.

Caption and video don’t match? Well, situations can change pretty fast in the Wildlife Medical Clinic, so we can’t always keep our Critter Cam page information accurate up to the minute. If we say the camera is on something furry, and you see feathers, give us a day to catch up!

Want to help provide food, medicine, and equipment for nearly 2,000 wildlife patients every year? You can make a gift online.

This just in: After an outage lasting several weeks due to a minor mishap with the camera and the falcon’s water dish, our critter cam was back only briefly. Then this pesky red-tailed hawk shredded the cord! A new cord was ordered on Dec. 11, and we hope to be back up and running in a couple of days.

This week, our camera is focused on a juvenile red-tailed hawk. He was found on the side of the road and brought to a referring veterinarian. Radiographs (x-rays) were taken, which showed several metal pellets around the body, as well as a fractured ulna (bone of the forearm). The hawk was transferred to the Wildlife Medical Clinic where we further assessed his injuries. He underwent surgery to remove fragments of the metal pellets from the fracture site and his wing was kept bandaged for about three weeks in order for bone healing and stabilization to occur.

Fortunately, this patient is doing very well and seems to be healing nicely! The wing wrap was removed about a week ago and he was moved to a larger space in order to start using his wings more. We are hoping to send this guy off to rehab for flight conditioning in the next week or two. Like many of our red-tailed hawk patients, this feathery friend is quite enthusiastic about mealtime. Try to tune in to watch him receive his breakfast in the morning!

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

Previously Featured

Peregrine Falcon

Update: The peregrine falcon was transferred to a wildlife rehabilitator for flight conditioning!

This week’s Critter Cam features a pretty rare species for the Wildlife Medical Clinic: a peregrine falcon. Peregrine falcons are some of the fastest fliers around the world. They tend to catch birds out of the air while in flight, and they may reach speeds as fast as 200 mph in pursuit of their prey!

The falcon in our care was transferred to us from a local wildlife rehabilitator after after the bird had been hit by a car. She was diagnosed with a fractured humerus and a fractured radius (the smaller bone in a bird’s “forearm”). She underwent surgery to correct both the humerus and the radius. Thankfully, the radius fracture was pretty well aligned and the metal pin was removed after about two weeks. She still has some pins with an acrylic bar to keep the humerus stable while the bone heals. We’re about three weeks out of surgery, and hopefully we will be able to remove the pins in the next week or two! This patient is quite vocal, and although you will not be able to hear her squawking, you may be able to see her opening her mouth to “yell” at us!

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

Short-Eared Owl

short-eared owlUpdate: Sadly, the short-eared owl died unexpectedly.

This week on the Critter Cam, we are featuring a species that we don’t see very commonly in the clinic—a short-eared owl. These owls are much smaller than great horned owls or long-eared owls and live primarily out on the prairie rather than forested areas.

This particular short-eared owl came to us last week with a fractured humerus (the upper “arm” bone in the wing). Since this fracture was open (the bone had pierced the skin), and the bone ends were not aligned well, we needed to surgically repair it. This little owl was taken into surgery and the fracture was repaired using metal pins with an external acrylic fixator. This fixator will basically act as a cast that is anchored to the bone to keep it as stable as possible. You’ll probably noticed this large grey fixator poking out of his bandage at his shoulder.

Unfortunately, this owl’s fracture was pretty gnarly and the repair was difficult, so he’s got a long road ahead. After a little while of keeping the wing bandaged up, we’ll start performing some passive range of motion by extending and flexing the elbow and shoulder to prevent too much loss of movement. Hopefully some pain medication, antibiotics, and a little peace and quiet will help this little guy make a full recovery.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Red-Tailed Hawk


Update: After further diagnostic testing, we found a small amount of fungal growth in this bird’s air sacs. We have sent off a sample to figure out what it is so that we can treat it, but are still waiting for the results. Luckily, this patient is still perky and doing well. 
Featured this week on the Wildlife Medical Clinic’s Critter Cam is an adult red-tailed hawk. This bird was brought to us by a raptor rehabilitation center who suspected that one of his coracoids (bone of the shoulder girdle) was injured. On his physical exam, there were no abnormal findings, except for him being extremely emaciated. After some fluid therapy and nutritional support, the students decided to take x-rays in order to assess his musculoskeletal system. Fortunately, there do not appear to be any bone fractures or soft tissue injuries!

For now, we are doing our best to plump him up to help him regain his strength! There were some abnormal cells on his last round of bloodwork, so we are monitoring him for any changes in behavior or appetite. You may notice that this bird has something on his tail. It is what we call a tail guard. Tail feathers are very important for flight once our patients are releasable, so we try to protect their tail feathers as much as possible. We use a piece of x-ray film and feather-safe tape to make the guard!

Red-tailed hawks are probably the most common species we see here in the WMC (maybe besides Eastern cottontails!). They are commonly seen soaring up above or perching on road signs, fenceposts, or telephone poles. Red-tailed hawks develop their reddish-brown colored tail at the age of two or three years, which is how we are able to classify this critter as an adult.

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

Juvenile Opossum


Update: This little girl continues to heal! Her injury is looking better everyday and hopefully the wound will be closed and stable to send her off to a rehabilitator very soon!
This week we are featuring a juvenile opossum on our Critter Cam. This little guy was brought in with a large hind limb wound and some broken metatarsals after being found by his mother that had been killed by a car. His other litter mates were healthy, so they are with another licensed rehabilitator getting ready for release. This guy, however, needs to stay in our care for a little while longer to make sure his leg heals up well. We are currently keeping a splint on the leg and changing it every 1 to 2 days to monitor the progress of the wound and make sure there are no bandage sores developing. Hopefully after his stay at the WMC, he will be as good as new and ready to be sent to a licensed rehabilitator to learn how to be an adult opossum. Keep in mind, opossums are primarily nocturnal animals that sleep most of the day, so you’re more likely to see this little guy out and about in the morning and evening.

Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Eastern Gray Squirrels

squirrelsUpdate: The young squirrels continue to do well, and are ready to be transferred to a rehabilitator to learn essential skills before being released into the wild.

This week on the Wildlife Medical Clinic’s Critter Cam is a group of Eastern gray squirrels. They are estimated to be about six to seven weeks old at this point. The majority of these patients were brought in because they were found in a cut-down tree (a common occurrence around this time of year in the clinic). There is one little guy in this cage who suffered a tail injury, so you may be able to tell which one of them has a shorter tail than the rest.

These babies are being syringe-fed formula and are also starting to eat soft foods such as applesauce, mashed veggies and fruits, as well as softened Cheerios! We tend to see lots of orphaned (or more commonly, kidnapped) gray squirrels around this time of year, so if you have any questions about how to approach, or whether to intervene, please contact the Wildlife Medical Clinic!

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

Red-Tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawkUpdate: The red-tailed hawk is continuing to heal well and should hopefully have his surgical pins removed shortly!

Our Critter Cam was MIA for a few days while we were busy moving our clinic to a new, larger space, but we are happy to say that the move went smoothly and the Critter Cam is up and running again! This week we are featuring a red-tailed hawk that has a broken wing (more specifically, his humerus). This little guy was originally brought to the Illinois Raptor Center and then they were able to transport him to us for the medical care he needs. After our initial exam, we took radiographs (x-rays) of his wing to see exactly where his fracture was and decide how to fix it. We fixed this fracture surgically with pins and an external acrylic fixator, so this guy has some extra hardware for the time being. Now, we just need to wait until the bone has healed enough to take the pins out. Once we take those out, this hawk can be sent to a rehabilitator for some flight reconditioning before hopefully returning to the wild. 

Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Canada Goose

Canada gooseUpdate: The goose’s leg healed well, and since he was able to walk and swim properly, he was released where he was found. 

This week’s Critter Cam features an adult Canada goose. This critter presented to the clinic a few weeks ago with a fractured tarsometatarsus (the bone between a bird’s “knee” and “ankle”). He underwent surgery in order to realign the bone, and pins were placed through the bone in order to hold it in the correct alignment during the healing process. Within 24 hours of surgery, the goose was up, walking around, and using his broken leg. With some pain management and physical therapy in his swimming pool, this patient is well on his road to recovery! In hopefully a week or two, we will be able to remove the pins and he can be transferred to a rehabilitator before being released back out into the wild! You’ll most likely catch this guy spending most of his time standing at the top of the ramp or swimming in the pool!

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

American Robin

robinUpdate: The fledgling robin was transferred to a licensed rehabilitator where he will learn to forage and fly before being released into the wild on his own!

Many species of song birds nest each year in Central Illinois, raising clutches of young that go through stages of maturation. Nestling birds remain in the nest under the tireless care of their parents, having food brought to them from dawn to dusk. Many nestling birds are fed as frequently as every 10 to 15 minutes during the day. Once mature feathers replace the downy fluff of the nestlings, these young become “branchers,” venturing from the nest to perch on nearby branches as they stretch their legs and wings.

A short time later, the branchers fledge from their nest site and become fledglings. Fledgling birds are learning to fly and find food while still under the watchful eyes of their parents. Parent passerines bring food to their young during this time and will do what they can to protect their young from harm. A fledgling bird may appear to be unable to fly, but these birds truly do not need to be “rescued.” If you watch the bird for a while, you may see its parent come feed it and hear as it calls for its next meal.

This American robin is at the awkward in-between stage between brancher and fledgling. It is healthy but still needs to be fed while it learns to eat on its own. American robins can be found most of the year in Central Illinois but migrate to warmer climates during the late fall and winter.

Dr. Julia Whittington, Wildlife Medical Clinic Director

Turkey Vulture

turkey vultureUpdate: The turkey vulture is doing well. X-rays show that the fracture is aligned and the healing process is progressing. We will recheck x-rays again in about three weeks.

This week on the Critter Cam we’re featuring a turkey vulture that is recovering from a broken humerus. This guy came in over a month ago, and it was clear he couldn’t fly and hadn’t eaten in a very long time. We tube fed him so that he could build up some more muscle, and once he was stable enough, we took some radiographs (x-rays). We found an old humerus (a bone in the wing) fracture along with over 20 little metallic balls that looked a whole lot like bullets. Luckily, the bullets hadn’t hit any joints, so this guy’s main problem was his broken humerus. Just last week, we surgically repaired the humerus with pins and an external acrylic fixator (the big gray structure that can be seen on his left wing). We hope that, with some time and physical therapy, this vulture will be soaring back out in the wild again.

Remember, if you’re ever tempted to shoot these birds, vultures are scavengers that only eat dead animals, which helps prevent the spread of many diseases throughout our environment. Please leave these birds be and let them do their job to make our ecosystem cleaner.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Blue Jay & American Robin

blue jayUpdate: The robin has been transferred to a rehabilitator until he is ready to be released. Unfortunately, the blue jay died unexpectedly. 

Featured on the Wildlife Medical Clinic’s Critter Cam this week is a cage with two fledgling birds: one blue jay and one American robin. The clinic has seen many young birds, ranging from nestlings to fledglings, in the past couple months, but we are starting to see more of the fledglings who are still trying to figure out how to fly! The blue jay was found abandoned in a yard, while the American robin was found in a bush that had been trimmed and the nest was destroyed in the process. Fortunately, both of these little guys seem to be completely healthy (with great appetites!), so we are providing regular feedings until they are able to be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator!

Ainsley Boyle, second-year veterinary student

American Kestrel

American kestrelUpdate: The American kestrel is doing well and should hopefully be released this weekend!

Our camera has been fixed! This week we are featuring an American kestrel that was brought to our clinic on June 18. He was found in the middle of a road and would not fly away. During our physical exam we didn’t find any issues with his muscular or skeletal system, but he was swaying some while perching and acting more “dumpy” than a healthy kestrel should during handling. He looked as if he just wasn’t feeling well, so we drew some blood to test his chemistries and get a complete blood count. The results of these tests showed that he had an abnormally high number of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), which indicates that he is fighting some sort of infection. Right now, he’s on an antibiotic and seems to be perking up. Hopefully he’ll be healthy enough to be released back to the wild in the near future.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Coyote Pup

[critter cam - coyote pup]Update: The coyote pup was transferred to a local rehabilitator to continue his cage rest with the company of some other coyote pups. As much as we enjoyed how cute he was, if we had kept him away from other coyotes much longer, he would have become too accustomed to humans to be released into the wild.

This coyote pup came to the Wildlife Medical Clinic after being hit by a car the night of May 25. Our wonderful ER staff took care of him overnight and started him on some IV fluids before we took over in the morning. When he first came to us, he was pretty down and out, but after rehydration and some pain medications, he perked right up. The day after he came in, we took radiographs (x-rays) of him and found that he has a broken pelvis, but didn’t see any other issues on the images. For this injury, we think some cage rest and a little physical therapy might just do the trick  to get this little guy healed up.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Update: On re-check radiographs, the hawk’s fracture appears to be healing well. We’ll be sending him to a local rehabilitator soon for flight conditioning.

Featured this week on the Critter Cam is a juvenile red-tailed hawk in the Wildlife Medical Clinic. This critter was found in a cornfield unable to fly.  The finder brought him to a raptor rehabilitator, who then transferred the hawk to us for medical treatment. On radiographs (x-rays), it appears that this little guy has a fractured major metacarpal (bone associated with the wrist). Our plan is to keep the wing bandaged and stable for a few weeks, along with providing physical therapy exercises, before transferring him back to the rehabilitation center for flight conditioning. We medicate his mice twice a day, so keep an eye out during feeding time!

—Ainsley Boyle, second-year veterinary student


View more past patients in our Critter Cam archive.