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[baby great horned owl]

Now Livestreaming: Juvenile Great Horned Owl

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 baby great horned owl was found on the ground at a local golf course. Due to his small size and abundance of fluff, he was brought to us. He appeared to be a healthy fledgling with the exception of a twig about 4 inches long that had penetrated his left wing. Luckily, the twig was not near any nerves or blood vessels and was easily removed. We hope this little cutie makes a full recovery after some rest and recuperation. Then he can be transferred to a rehabilitator and eventually released when he is old enough!

–Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

To support this bird’s care, and that of other patients of the Wildlife Medical Clinic, visit our giving page at

Previously Featured

Eastern Screech Owl

[eastern screech owl]Update: Unfortunately, this patient died.

This eastern screech owl was brought to the Wildlife Medical Clinic on March 3 after being found near Danville, Ill., with a left wing injury. During our intake exam, we didn’t find any fractures in either wing, so we believe it’s likely a soft tissue injury that is causing a left wing droop and causing this bird to hold its wings out asymmetrically when trying to fly. For the time being, we are giving this little screech owl plenty of cage rest, TLC, and medication to keep him comfortable so any soft tissue injuries have time to heal.

– Natalie Zimmerman, Class of 2022

Red-Shouldered Hawk

[red-shouldered hawk]Update: This hawk has been transferred to a wildlife rehabilitator to ensure that he can fly and hunt well enough to be released back to the wild soon!

This red-shouldered hawk presented to the Wildlife Medical Clinic on January 11 with a potentially injured wing. On exam, we noted some pain on extension of the right shoulder and some ataxia (or uncoordination). We did some radiographs (x-rays) to determine if there were any abnormalities. The patient did not show any significant changes on radiographs and was started on anti-inflammatory medication to reduce any swelling in the brain/spinal cord that could be causing the ataxia. After a week, this bird is looking much better; perching on his own and eating like a champion! We have discontinued his medication so that we may monitor his progress without medicaton to determine whether he is ready to transfer to a rehabilitation facility.

-Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

Eastern Screech Owl

[eastern screech owl]Update: The screech owl was transferred to a rehabilitator.

This eastern screech owl (Megascops asio) presented to our clinic on November 22 for a traumatic injury to its left eye. We were able to perform an evisceration surgery of the injured eye on December 2 to remove the unhealthy tissue. An evisceration allows us to safely remove the superficial structures of the eye, while leaving the posterior (further toward the back or deeper) structures of the eye intact. This is an important procedure to perform on owls, as the posterior structures of the eye are essential for the overall structure of their skull. We are confident that this bird of prey will do well in the wild with only one eye, because owls use hearing to hunt, not vision. There have been reports of one-eyed owls surviving without any deficits. This brave little owl is doing great post-surgery. It enjoys lots of food each day and loves hopping around its cage when awake! We hope to soon transfer this animal to a rehabilitator to finish its recovery and learn how to be an owl before being returned to the wild.

–Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

[saw-whet owl]Update: Unfortunately, our northern saw-whet owl succumbed to his illness despite our best efforts.

This northern saw-whet owl was found on a farm unable to fly and was brought to our clinic on November 23. After a physical exam, it was clear that the patient’s right wing was injured. After some x-rays were taken, we determined the wing was not broken and the injury is now assumed to be soft tissue or nerve related. Our little saw-whet is now on cage rest and some anti-inflammatories to help heal its little wing! Fun fact – Northern saw-whets have a distinct call that is said to be similar to a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone – which leads to its name!
–Cassie Hill, Class of 2022

Great Horned Owl

[great horned owl]

Update on this patient: Her fracture healed well! She was transferred to a rehabber to regain her strength.
This beautiful great horned owl presented to our clinic on October 14 after being found on the side of the road. When the owl arrived at the Wildlife Medical Clinic, she seemed non-visual and had a wound on her beak. This led us to believe she may have injured her head. After an ophthalmology appointment and a little bit of TLC, we determined she was visual but still could not fly well. We took her to radiographs and ran blood work to see if we could figure out why she was not flying. It turns out that she had a broken coracoid, which is an important bone to help birds fly. On top of that, her blood work showed she also had an active infection going on! For now, we are letting her rest and heal that bone while treating her with antibiotics for her infection. Fun fact: We are calling this great horned owl a “she” because she is quite large, which makes us think she is a girl! (Female great horned owls are larger than males)
—Liz Golden, Class of 2022

Great Horned Owl

[great horned owl]This great horned owl presented to us for rodenticide (rat poison) toxicosis. This type of poisoning commonly occurs in wildlife species when they feed on a mouse or rat that has eaten rodenticide. The toxins in the rodenticide interfere with the activation of vitamin K, a key component in the blood clotting cascade. Because of this, this owl has a coagulopathy (blood clotting disorder) and an abnormally low number of red blood cells. We are giving him some extra vitamin K in order to treat the coagulopathy and get him feeling better!

This disorder made it very difficult for him to find food, so he is also thin and dehydrated. For this we are giving him extra fluids and plenty of mice. Because owls are nocturnal, we give him mice in the evening to better mimic his normal eating schedule. Finally, there was also evidence of mild trauma upon presentation: he has some soft tissue wounds and bruising, as well as missing feathers on one wing. To treat this, we are making sure to clean his wounds and give him antibiotics as well as medication for pain. Once this owl is done with his treatments, he will be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for continued care before being released.
—Rachel Angles, Class of 2023

Blue-Tongued Skink

Update: Onslo has moved to the new residence for our ambassador animals and unfortunately, the WIFI does not reach the new location.
Today the Critter Cam spotlights one of our ambassador animals, a blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua) named Onslo. Onslo has served as a non-native reptile ambassador in our Education and Outreach Program since 2015, when his previous owner, Rose Ann Meccoli, passed away. Rose Ann worked in the Wildlife Medical Clinic for 15 years and was very involved with the ambassador animals as well. While blue-tongued skinks are native to Australia, there are species of skinks that can be found right here in Illinois. Onslo teaches the public about reptiles and helps to dispel common fears and misconceptions. Like their name suggests, blue-tongued skinks really do have a bright blue tongue! They flash it to predators when they are feeling threatened. While checking out the Critter Cam, you are likely to spot Onslo resting in his favorite way, partially buried in his substrate!
–Caralee Stover, Class of 2023


[raccoon]Update on the raccoon: The raccoon was transferred to a rehabber!

Here we have a common raccoon that was brought to us after being attacked by a predator. On initial exam, it was found that this raccoon had some incisors that were avulsed (pulled away) from the root, a possible mandibular fracture, a degloving wound on its right front hand affecting its third digit, and it was dehydrated. This patient was given some de-worming medication (as we do for all raccoons), some antibiotics, and an anti-inflammatory medication. After getting radiographs on this patient, the avulsed teeth were removed and the third digit was amputated to remove any non-healing tissue and give this guy a quicker recovery. Since then, it has been eating like a champ and hanging out in its hammock. We are just waiting for the raccoon to have a healed hand and continuing to gain weight before we can transfer it to a rehabber.

–Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

American Crow

[American crow]Update: The American Crow was transferred to a licensed rehabber to perform an active range of motion test to clear it for release.

This American crow presented to us from Highland Pet Hospital in Bloomington, Ill. It was found in the yard of one of their technicians and it was unable to fly. She was able to capture it very readily and bring it to her clinic to get checked out. They did radiographs (x-rays) at the veterinary clinic and determined that this animal had a bullet in its wing. The crow was acting pretty normal despite its injury. They contacted us and wanted to know if we would take the animal, and of course we would! Using the radiographs taken from their clinic, we were able to successfully remove the bullet from the animal’s carpus (similar to our wrist) and get it feeling better. We drew blood on this bird during the procedure and ran a lead test to see if the animal was experiencing any lead toxicity from the bullet. It was determined that there was some lead in its blood, but not enough to cause significant issues. The lead should resolve on its own now that the bullet is no longer present. We are currently performing PROM (Passive Range of Motion) on this animal every three days to ensure that he has full mobility of the wing. Please enjoy watching our fine feathered friend as he plays with all of his enrichment in his cage!

–Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

Red Fox

[red fox]Update: The fox has undergone all of his treatment, but not before he managed to chew through the Critter Cam cord and put us out of commission for a few days. 🙂 The good news is, he is going to be transferred to a rehabber in the next few days! And we got a replacement cord.

This red fox (Vulpes vulpes) presented to us in June. He was emaciated, dehydrated, and infected with a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. This mite burrows into the skin and causes sarcoptic mange with subsequent severe itching, so this patient also had several self-inflicted wounds from scratching. We started him on a medication for the mites, a steroid to reduce the inflammation in his skin, an antibiotic to prevent any further infection, and fluids to correct his dehydration. A blood sample was obtained and revealed that the fox was anemic on top of his other issues, so he was also given medication to help increase his red blood cell production. Since being admitted, he has received two medicated baths to remove flakes of skin and wash away any superficial mites. Sarcoptic mange is very contagious, so this guy is kept in isolation to prevent infection of other patients, and caution must be used when handling since this mite can be transferred to humans as well. We put his medications in mice to minimize handling and he absolutely loves eating them! He has been recovering well and already looks 100 times better than he did the day he presented. Once this fox is done with his medications, he will be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for continued care before being released.

–Lauren Vincent, Class of 2023

Cedar Waxwing

[cedar waxwing]Update: The cedar waxwing has left the nest! This bird was released back to the wild and flew away waving goodbye!

This cedar waxwing was brought to the Wildlife Medical Clinic due to an inability to fly. Our physical examination did not discover any fractures, and we deemed the patient to be fairly healthy. However, when we performed a flight test on the bird, she was unable to sustain flight. Our top two differentials were a shoulder girdle injury or a soft tissue injury that just needed time to heal. We took radiographs of the patient and determined that she has a left corocoid fracture (part of the shoulder girdle). The only treatment for a fracture of that kind is rest and relaxation, along with some anti-inflammatory medication to help the patient feel better. The patient’s favorite food is berries! We are able to put the oral medication on the food to eliminate the need to handle the patient, as that can cause further damage to her injury.

–Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

Adult Barred Owl

[barred owl]

Update: The barred owl was transferred to a local rehabilitator to further its care and to learn how to correctly behave as a wild owl.

This adult barred owl (Strix varia) was brought to the Wildlife Medical Clinic on June 1. It originally presented to Prairie Oaks Veterinary Clinic with a wing droop. After complete physical examination of this animal once it reached our care, we determined that this bird has a soft tissue shoulder injury of the left wing. There was full range of motion of all joints involved and no fractures were found! This animal has been receiving some medication to help with inflammation and pain. This barred owl has been eating well and feeling much better with its medication. The plan is to start to withdraw medication for this animal in the upcoming week to determine if the animal’s injury has resolved. Enjoy hanging out with our feathered friend!

–Rebecca Berton, Class of 2023

Great Horned Owl

[a great horned owl]Update: The great horned owl was cared for until its fracture had healed. The patient was in very good health and was transferred to the Illinois Raptor Center for continued care and eventual release!

This great horned owl was brought to the Wildlife Medical Clinic by the Illinois Raptor Center because it was not able to fly. The owl is an adult and is most likely female based on the weight; female great horned owls are larger than the males. The team assigned to this owl’s case found a broken ulna (one of the bones between the wrist and the elbow). Luckily for this owl, her fractured bone did not need surgery! We hope this feisty owl will be able to be released after her fracture fully heals, which will hopefully be in 2 to 3 weeks.
–Gloria Sari, Class of 2021

Juvenile Snapping Turtle

[juvenile snapping turtle]

Turtle update: This juvenile common snapping turtle continues to thrive and grow. The little one will receive continued care until the weather warms up enough for release.

This is a juvenile common snapping turtle that was found as a baby outside of the Savoy Recreation Center in November. Common snapping turtles lay their eggs during the summer. After hatching in the fall, the young will commonly overwinter in their nest. Since this little one was found in a parking lot nowhere near a nest, he will need to spend his winter with us until it is warm enough to be released. Want to know more about turtles? Check out this article “Why did the turtle cross the road?

–Cailey Vandermark, Class of 2022

Great Horned Owl

[great horned owl]Update on the owl: After months of treatment, and despite a long course of antibiotics, her infection continued to worsen, and she developed more extensive oral plaques in her mouth and throat. Because of this, the difficult decision to euthanize was made.  

This great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) came to the Wildlife Medical Clinic on October 9. She was originally brought in by the Illinois Raptor Center for ectoparasites, small plaques on her foot, feather loss, and a skunky smell. The ectoparasites were easily resolved with treatment and a skunk smell is normal for these owls, because skunks are one of their favorite meals! About two weeks into her stay with us, the lesions on her feet had not resolved on their own. She was anesthetized and the lesions were surgically removed without any problems. She immediately began perching again and acting feisty! Unfortunately, as she continued her stay in the clinic, we noted that she started to develop a bacterial infection in her mouth. When the patient’s bacteria was examined under the microscope, she was diagnosed with a primary viral infection: a poxvirus. Currently, we are treating our patient for a primary viral infection and her secondary bacterial infection. She is active and alert and aggressive! Enjoy watching her!

— Ivana Levy, third-year veterinary student

Red Fox

[red fox at Wildlife Medical Clinic]Update on the fox: This fox has received his last treatment for the sarcoptes scabei mites and is set up to be transferred to a locate wildlife rehabilitator, where he will have more space and freedom until he is ready to be released.

This red fox arrived on Halloween night. He was very cold, thin, and covered in fleas. He also had a significant amount of thick flaky crusts on his ears, face, back, and tail, accompanied by hair loss in these areas. These flaky crusts are a hallmark sign of a Sarcoptes scabiei infection, which is a [red fox before and after medicated bath]mite that burrows into the skin and causes intense itching, also known as sarcoptic mange or scabies. These mites are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred to humans. It also commonly infects our companion dogs and other canids such as coyotes. This presumptive diagnosis was confirmed with a skin scrape showing the live mites and eggs on the microscope. After being warmed up, hydrated, and fed this fox began treatment for his fleas and mites, which can be treated with the same medication. It can take some time to fully resolve an infestation, so he has received several doses of medication. This fox is kept separate from any other mammals and students must use extra precautions when handling and cleaning his cage to prevent spread of the mites to other patients (or themselves!). We do not typically bathe wild animals, but due to the extremely large amount of crusty skin and itching this infection causes, this patient was given a bath with a medicated shampoo to increase his comfort. (The image at right shows what the fox looked like before and after the bath.) His fur is now growing back and we can no longer find mites on a skin scrape, and he’s eating very happily! After his last dose of medication, he will soon be transferred to a licensed rehabilitator before being released!

—Cassie Vespa, third-year veterinary student

Great Horned Owl

Update on great horned owl (and ring-necked duck): This owl kindly donated his blood for a transfusion given to a ring-necked duck. The transfusion was a success and it gave the duck a boost of red blood cells that kept him alive while he was treated for lead poisoning! The owl had his sutures removed the day he gave blood, and then he was transferred to a rehabber for flight conditioning shortly after. The duck was very briefly on camera; however, he began improving quickly but still wouldn’t eat on his own (likely due to the stress of being in the clinic). It was in his best interest to be released to reduce stress instead of continuing tube feeding. He was released the day before Thanksgiving to the Arboretum pond nearby!

This owl was found with one of its talons stuck in its gnathotheca (bottom portion of the beak) and brought to the Illinois Raptor Center by a good Samaritan. The talon was pulled out, and now this owl had a hole all the way through the bottom of its beak into its mouth, so he was transferred to the Wildlife Medical Clinic for treatment. He was given pain medications and fluids. We quickly noticed that the toe that was stuck in his beak was very stiff and he seemed unable to open his foot. This caused him to be unable to perch, and he was essentially standing on a balled fist on his left foot. [Foot of great horned owl with amputated toe]Unfortunately, since the talons are so sharp, this was also causing wounds on the bottom of his foot. The toe was very contracted and could not be forced to stay open. Owls have four toes with talons; they are used to catch prey and perch. They primarily use their first digit (pointing towards the back, like a thumb) and their third digit (pointing forward, like a middle finger) to catch prey. The digit that is affected in this owl is his fourth digit (pointing outward, like a ring finger or pinky), therefore not the most important digit for grasping prey and branches. We were confident that he could easily compensate without this digit, so it was amputated. He is currently healing comfortably until he will be sent to a rehabber for prey testing. Check out this link to learn a few owl facts!

—Cassie Vespa, third-year veterinary student

Opossum Orphans

[two baby Virginia opossums]We are featuring two* little baby Virginia opossums on Critter Cam. These two are not siblings and came into the clinic with different litters. Their siblings were healthy and have been transferred to a licensed rehabilitator for feedings until they are old enough to release into the wild.

The first little opossum is the larger of the two. She came in with her sibling when their mother was killed by a dog, and unfortunately, she had also been grabbed by the dog. She sustained a fracture of her left humerus bone and a puncture wound on her right shoulder. We did radiographs to assess the fracture, then placed a tiny splint. She is being treated with pain medications and an antibiotic, since bite wounds carry a lot of bacteria from the animal’s mouth.

The smaller opossum was brought in with his siblings after being found scattered around 2 yards without a mother in sight. They were all pretty thin and dehydrated, but quickly turned around after some TLC with fluids and formula. The one injured sibling had a puncture wound of his right eye. He is being treated with a systemic anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic eye drop called ofloxacin.

Both of these two are currently healing very well and still being fed formula three times a day. They are also eating some solid foods, so you might catch them munching on the camera! They enjoy snuggling together in fabric pouches. When they are healed, they will be transferred to rehabilitator to join their siblings! For more information on how you can help these two babies and our other patients, visit our giving page at

* Note: If you see more than two babies on camera, it’s because whenever we get new orphan opossums into the clinic of similar sizes we house them together! You may see more than two at times then see it back to only two, this is because we transfer the healthy babies to rehabbers while we keep any that still need medical treatment in the clinic.

—Cassie Vespa, third-year veterinary student

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Update: After a few days of free food, this eagle had gotten up to a normal weight and body condition. He was then sent to Illinois Raptor Center for flight conditioning and live prey testing.

This juvenile bald eagle was found on the side of a road in Champaign appearing to be injured or sick. On presentation to the Wildlife Medical Clinic, it was very weak, dull, and not very responsive to being handled. We found that he was extremely thin and dehydrated, but no injuries or fractures could be found. Bald eagles are very sensitive to lead poisoning, which they are often exposed to by being shot with lead bullets or eating other animals with lead bullets or lead fishing sinkers. This eagle was tested negative for lead in his blood. We found that he was a bit anemic (low red blood cells), which can be a side effect of starvation since the body no longer has enough nutrients to make more red blood cells. We even took radiographs to be sure there were no underlying injuries present that we could not feel, but those as well showed nothing. It is very common for young raptors to have difficulty hunting on their own after their parents have stopped feeding them. This young eagle was found starving probably just because it’s having difficulty feeding itself. After just one afternoon of fluid therapy and oral electrolytes, he perked up significantly and began eating the (free) food we gave him on his own. We will continue to provide supportive care until this eagle is healthy once again. Then he will be sent to the Illinois Raptor Center for flight conditioning and live prey testing.

If you’re wondering why he doesn’t look quite like a typical image of a brown and white bald eagle, it’s because juvenile bald eagles look different from adults like many bird species. Juveniles have dark beaks and entirely brown heads and bodies, with white and brown mottled wings and tails. As they get older, they start getting more white on their heads and tails, and their beaks become yellow. Juveniles look very similar to golden eagles, minus the characteristic golden patch of feathers on the nape of the necks!

—Cassie Vespa, third-year veterinary student

Great Blue Heron

Update: After weeks of physical therapy with this heron, we removed the pins holding his fracture in place. This was the moment of truth as it would tell us if the bone was still viable during surgery, or if the time it spent exposed to the air after the break had killed the tissue beyond repair. Unfortunately, when the pins were removed the fracture had not healed, which means the bone tissue had been outside of the skin for too long. Removing all of the dead bone and letting the healthy bone heal together is not an option in a bird because then the wing would be too short for the bird to be able to fly. Sadly, we cannot release a bird than cannot fly as it would not be able to search for food or protect itself from predators, so we had to humanely euthanize this heron.

This great blue heron was found on a bike path with an injured wing, and the finder was able to bring it to us on his bike! Great blue herons can often be found in marshes and use their long necks to quickly strike at small fish or small mammals, or when threatened, at rehabilitators’ faces, so it’s important that we always wear safety goggles or masks. Upon physical exam, it was found that the bird’s right wing was twisted around 360 degrees and was fractured in two places. The wing was put back into the correct orientation and wrapped up so it wouldn’t move. On June 6, this handsome heron underwent surgery and pins were placed to fix the fractures in its wing. As stressful and as painful as his injuries are, this great blue heron is a fantastic eater, and loves getting his smelt and the occasional live goldfish. While his injuries are severe, we hope that he will be able to recover and be released back to the wild.

—Erica Bender, second-year veterinary student


[young raccoon]Update: Our little monsters are continuing to gain weight and have started to eat on their own! Once they are fully self-feeding, they will be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with an outdoor enclosure where they can climb and learn to be wild raccoons.

These orphan raccoons are healthy babies that were found in person’s attic and brought to us. These mischievous raccoons are currently being tube fed milk replacer so that they can gain weight and hopefully be transferred to a licensed rehabber before they can be released to the wild. These little rascals can be a handful, and mom always does a much better job of taking care of them than we do, so if you see a group of raccoon babies, please give mom a chance to come back. She might just be out getting food! For more information about whether or not to help these animals, please visit:

—Erica Bender, second-year veterinary student

Belted Kingfisher

[female kingfisher]Update: The kingfisher’s fracture healed, and she was transferred to Illinois Raptor Center, where she will have more space to stretch out her wings and build up her muscles for flight before she is hopefully released back to the wild!

Our new featured patient is a female belted kingfisher. We can tell she is a female because she has a brown “belt” of feathers across her belly, unlike the males which have all white bellies. Kingfishers are stocky birds with large heads topped with a crest of feathers, and a thick sharp bill used for catching fish. This belted kingfisher was brought to us after being found grounded and unable to fly. We felt a fracture in her right radius (forearm bone), which was confirmed on radiographs (x-rays). Her wing was wrapped so that her bone could heal without her moving it, and she was kept comfortable with pain medication and an anti-inflammatory. Kingfishers can be challenging patients because they are very easily stressed and do not like to eat in captivity. She was resistant to eating at first, but thankfully warmed up to catching her own fish from a bowl of water! Her fracture healed well, and she is currently receiving physical therapy to help her regain function of the wing and ability to fly.

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Red Fox Pup

[fox pup]Update: Our pup has healed her external wounds and finished her antibiotics. She was transferred to a rehabber to finish the healing of her skull and growing before she can be released. The environment with the rehabber is less stressful and more natural for these critters, and she will be able to grow up with a few other fox pups!

This red fox pup was found wandering on the porch of a house, apparently lost. The finders could not locate a mother fox nearby. The pup also had a rather large gash on her head above her right eye, so they brought her to the Wildlife Medical Clinic for evaluation and treatment. Her wound was quite deep and full of blood and debris. It was shaved and cleaned, and she was given a pain medication and an anti-inflammatory. We suspect the wound may be a bite from a larger animal. A large number of bacteria are present in the mouths of any animal (including humans!), and bite wounds can often become severely infected, so she was also started on an antibiotic medication. Due to the depth of the wound, we were also worried she may have a skull fracture in that location. Radiographs (X-rays) were taken and they did indeed show a small fracture of her frontal bone. This fracture does not seem to be causing her any issues, and with some pain management and supportive care she will hopefully heal quickly and be on her way to a rehabber before being released into the wild! Just like a dog, she has to wear an E-collar (plastic cone) to prevent her from scratching the wound and making it worse. She is quite shy, but can be seen enjoying some play time and enrichment with a Kong toy filled with goodies!

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Great Horned Owl

[great horned owl]Update: This great horned owl initially could not move its toes after the blood supply was cut off. After some pain management, anti-inflammatories, active range of motion therapy, cold laser treatment, and pentoxifylline to increase blood flow to her foot, she regained function and was sent to the Illinois Raptor Center for flight conditioning and prey testing!

This great horned owl came in after getting its leg stuck in netting over a chicken coop. During its physical exam, this patient was found to have some swelling on one its wings and some swelling and wounds on the foot that was in the netting. Because of the wounds on its foot, this feisty owl was unable to fully close his foot around a perch. We initially bandaged its foot and started it on some medications and this bird has been gradually improving. We’ve now placed this owl in a run so it will have more room and a variety of perches to stand on for us to better assess how it is using its foot. Hopefully the foot will continue to improve and this great horned owl can get back out to hunting in the wild (hopefully not more chickens).

—Erica Bender, first-year veterinary student

Canada Goose

[canada goose]2nd Update: One of our Canada geese was released this past weekend! After being shot and having a broken ulna and pubis bones, its injuries healed nicely and we were able to get back its range of motion in its wings with physical therapy so that it could be released back into the wild. Our other goose friend is still with us, continuing with its physical therapy to get its range of motion back in its wings, but now has a new goose to share its run with.

1st Update: Yes, there are now two geese. Both unfortunately had been shot. Several bullets were found on the radiographs (X-rays) of the new arrival, causing fractures of the right ulna and right pubis bone of the pelvis. Geese do pretty well being housed together, so these two are sharing the swimming pool now that their wounds have healed and they can get in the water again. They are both currently undergoing physical therapy to bring back the range of motion in their wings after the wounds and fractures have healed. 

This patient was found by an animal control officer in Macon County. It came in with an open wound on its right elbow, several broken feathers, wounds on its right leg, and a gnarly deep wound on its back near the rump. The more severe wounds were bandaged with Manuka honey and the right wing was stabilized in a wrap in case of a fracture. This goose was given pain medications, an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, and fluids. Radiographs (X-rays) showed 5 small bullet-like objects. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that any of the objects have penetrated into the body cavity or any joints. This goose also did not suffer any bone fractures from the apparent gunshot wounds. One bullet was removed from the elbow area since it was so close to the elbow that it may have caused a problem with the goose flapping its wings. The other four bullets were left in place because they were not causing any additional issues and geese do remarkably well at healing around them. Even if these bullets contained lead, the goose will not suffer lead poisoning unless the bullets are in the gastrointestinal system or a joint capsule, where they will begin to be broken down and absorbed by the body. This goose was tested for lead, but did not have any in his system. Many geese out in the wild are likely carrying around a few bullets or pellets of their own! We are changing this goose’s bandages frequently and monitoring the healing progress of its wounds. Once its wounds have healed and flight feathers have grown back, this goose will be ready to return to the wild!

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Great Horned Owl

[great horned owl]Update: Unfortunately, the wound near this owl’s carpus (wrist) was too extensive to heal properly. The range of motion in its carpus was greatly diminished, which is really important for these guys to be able to fly well and hunt. There was not enough healthy tissue to cover the area, and when the wrist moved bone was exposed. This owl would not be releasable to the wild as it would not be able to fly and hunt and would also be at risk for severe infection with exposed bone. So sadly the decision was made to humanely euthanize this owl that would not be able to survive on its own.

We are now featuring a beautiful great horned owl on the critter cam. After being cut from barbed wire, this owl was brought to the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur, then transported to us for further medical care. This sassy bird had some pretty extensive wounds along the right wing and was pretty down and out. We were able to suture the wounds and give subcutaneous fluids to perk this bird up. For the time being, we are monitoring the wounds closely and giving a round of antibiotics and some pain medications. At the moment, this beautiful owl is in the holiday spirit, sporting a Valentine’s Day-inspired bandage. Hopefully the wounds will heal up well after some TLC, and this great horned owl will be back out in the wild before we know it.

—Kara Hiebert, third-year veterinary student

Eastern Box Turtle

[Eastern Box Turtle}Update: The Eastern box turtle is still doing well! We are just waiting for the weather to warm up so we can release her back to her home in the wild.

This Eastern Box Turtle came to us from Mattoon, Ill. There are three main characteristics we can look at in box turtles to determine if they are male or female: tail length, eye color, and plastron (lower shell) shape. Because this turtle has a short tail, brown eyes, and a flat plastron she is assumed to be a female. When she came to us, she had a fairly large wound on her right hind limb and body, which was causing her limb to be extremely swollen. She was treated with a systemic anti-inflammatory, to reduce the swelling, and an antibiotic to prevent infection. The wound was regularly cleaned and bandaged until healed. The swelling was so significant that this patient was also treated to regular spa days with salt baths! The idea is the high osmolality of the salt water will cause water to leave the patient’s swollen area to balance out the solutes in the salt water, thus reducing the swelling. This patient also had three missing toes on her front right foot, but they were completely healed and assumed to be an old injury presenting no issues to the patient.

Luckily, she healed well and has no complications that prevents her from being released back into the wild. It is very important to return box turtles to the exact location where they were found. If box turtles are removed from their home area, they will spend the rest of their life wandering trying to return to this location, and they are more likely to spread disease to or contract disease from other populations of box turtles. Thankfully, we know exactly where she came from so she will be able to be returned to her home area. However, these turtles undergo a type of hibernation during the winter called brumation. At this point in the season, it is too cold to put her back outside as she would not have time to find a suitable area to brumate before the freezing weather. So this means this patient will be hanging out with us in the clinic until spring. She has a nice large enclosure with plenty of foliage, heat, food, and water. She is a voracious eater! Catch her at feeding time Monday, Wednesday, and Friday around 7:30 to 8 am, or you may notice her soaking in her water bath.

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Red-Tailed Hawk

[red-tailed hawk]This new patient is a dark morph red-tailed hawk. He has more chocolate brown coloring than the typical pattern of a red-tailed hawk. He was brought to the Wildlife Medical Clinic after colliding with some power lines—ouch! Our exam showed no evidence of electrocution; however, he does have a fractured right humerus (the long arm bone). Immediately, he was started on an opioid and anti-inflammatory medication to control his pain associated with the fracture. Radiographs were taken to assess the extent of his injuries. The fracture was found to be proximal, or close, to the shoulder joint. The closer the break is to a joint, the more difficult it is to place a pin to secure the break. His fracture was also very well aligned already, so surgical intervention was not necessary to replace the fragments in the correct position for healing!

The treatment for this patient is to keep his right wing wrapped up with a figure 8 pattern around his wing and an additional wrap holding his wing to his body, so he cannot move his wing at all. The purpose is to keep his fracture as stable as possible so it will stay aligned properly and heal in the correct position. He is a bit resistant to eating while in the clinic so far, but our student volunteers are working with him every day to ensure that his wing stays in place and he gets his medications and proper nutrition. The next step is to take recheck radiographs at 1, 2, and 3 weeks to observe how the bone is healing and check that it has remained aligned; if it moves out of position, surgical intervention may be needed. Hopefully in a few weeks he will be ready for flight conditioning at the Illinois Raptor Center!

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Bald Eagle

[critter cam-bald eagle]Update: Our bald eagle has finished  vitamin K and chelation courses. Blood work showed its clotting time and lead level are now normal! Radiograph assessment of the injured wrist indicated that the bones are normal, and this was likely a soft tissue injury causing mild inflammation and pain that just needed some time to recover. With the normal blood work and recovered wing, this eagle has been transferred to the Illinois Raptor Center for flight conditioning and will be released back into the wild shortly! 

The Critter Cam is featuring one of the most charismatic species we treat, an adult bald eagle! This eagle was brought in last week after being found unable to fly. On initial examination we found that the right carpus and metacarpals (the “wrist” and “hand” bones) felt abnormal. Blood tests revealed that this eagle had some lead exposure and a blood-clotting abnormality. While there are many possibilities for why this guy had some trouble clotting, one option that can be seen in raptor species is anticoagulant rodenticide ingestion. Even though we can’t say for sure that’s the cause of the clotting issues, we are giving supplemental vitamin K to support this eagle’s clotting ability. We also treated with chelation therapy for the lead that we found, and after 5 days, the levels have decreased to a safer level. Our next step will be radiographs (or X-rays) to figure out what might be going on in that injured right wing. In the meantime, this patient has steadily become more energetic and has been eating lots of fish! Hopefully we will be able to patch this eagle up and get it back out to the wild where it belongs.

—Kara Hiebert, third-year veterinary student


[critter cam - osprey]Update: The osprey’s leg healed well, and she has been transferred to Illinois Raptor Center to regain strength in a larger flight cage.

Since our little turtle has been released, we are now featuring a somewhat uncommon species for us in the clinic: an osprey. This osprey was brought in on August 24 by a good Samaritan after she was found tangled in fishing line in a lake. Upon initial examination, we found that she was not as feisty as a healthy osprey should be and that she had a three-pronged hook embedded in her left leg. We sedated her and carefully removed the hook from her leg. There was quite a bit of granulation tissue (healing tissue) surrounding the hook, which makes us think that the hook had been there for at least a few days. We also found that she was dehydrated and her blood protein levels were a little low, so she probably hadn’t had a good meal in a while. With some pain medication, antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids, and nutritional support, she has perked up quite a bit during her stay in the clinic. We also took full body radiographs because we thought this patient may have had a fracture of her coracoid (one of the bones in the shoulder) and to make sure she didn’t have any hooks or sinkers in her gastrointestinal tract, which can be a common finding in animals that eat fish. Fortunately, no fracture was found, and once this osprey’s wounds heal she will, we hope, be on her way back to the wild.

—Kara Hiebert, third-year veterinary student

Newly Hatched Red-eared Slider

[newly hatched red-eared slider]Update: The baby red-eared slider previously featured on the Critter Cam was able to swim and eat well, so it has been released! Baby turtles are independent once they are hatched, so this little guy didn’t need to stay long before it was ready to take on the real world. Check out our Facebook page for a video of the release!

It was an exciting weekend at the Wildlife Medical Clinic! We have a special little patient with us that we have been waiting for. A red-eared slider egg that we had been incubating in the clinic since June 8 finally started to hatch! This egg was saved from a mother red-eared slider that was hit by a car and had injuries too severe to survive. Unfortunately, the trauma to her shell also caused trauma to most of the eggs, and they were not viable, but luckily we were able to save this one. It was a bit slow going, but this little guy came out of its shell on Sunday night! (The photo showing the hatchling being held by a gloved hand is greatly enlarged.) Amazingly, turtles are equipped to live on their own as soon as they hatch, so our little friend will be able to be released into the wild very soon. See only an empty shell? Our baby has burrowed itself into the pebbles. Notice a yellow blob underneath? This is the remainder of the yolk which is attached by an umbilical to its abdomen. The turtle needs to finish absorbing this before it can be released!

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Barred Owl

barred owlThis barred owl was brought to us for an obvious fracture of its right wing. She had an open fracture of her right humerus, meaning part of the broken bone was pierced through the skin. We immediately started her on an antibiotic, in addition to strong pain medication and an anti-inflammatory, since open fractures are at a high risk of serious infection that could potentially be fatal. The humerus bones in birds are pneumatic, which means they are hollow and filled with air. This allows them to be lighter in weight to make flying easier, and they are actually a part of the avian respiratory system which puts them at an even higher risk of developing a bad respiratory infection.

This patient was taken to surgery as soon as possible. Similar to our last featured patient, we stabilized the fracture with pins and an external acrylic bar, but this patient’s fracture was much longer and more oblique than the red-tailed hawk’s. Additional stabilization was placed in the form of cerclage wire that was wrapped around the fractured bone. Even right after surgery, this little barred owl was immediately very feisty! She is continuing to do really well in the clinic and gets physical therapy on her wing every other day. Soon, we will take recheck radiographs to assess the healing of her fracture.

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Red-Tailed Hawk

Update: We’ve taken recheck radiographs of this patient’s femur fracture and it appears to have healed really well. We removed the pins from his femur and the fracture was stable. We are continuing to give him an anti-inflammatory medication and monitoring how he is using the leg. Soon he will be sent to the Illinois Raptor Center for flight conditioning before being released back into the wild! 

You might recognize this red-tailed hawk from our Facebook page. This hawk came to us on June 29 and was our second patient of the summer that had become lodged in a truck grill. (As of July 13, there have been three!) This hawk is from Clay County and was removed from the grill by Clay County Animal Rescue, who then brought the hawk to us. On initial exam we found a pretty severe femur fracture and took radiographs (x-rays) right away. Luckily, we were able to surgically repair the fracture by placing pins into the bone with an acrylic external fixator attached. Just one day after surgery, this hawk was already starting to put weight on the repaired leg. What a champ! It has now been about one and a half weeks since surgery, and he is walking around on his leg like nothing ever happened. In fact, he often fluffs up his feathers so much that we can’t see the external fixator attached to his leg. In another week and a half, we will take another set of radiographs to make sure that the bone has healed enough for us to remove the pins that we put in. Hopefully, soon after that, this hawk will be on his way to flying free again (this time steering clear of cars).

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Coyote Pup

Update: The coyote pup continues to heal and is as feisty as ever — so feisty, in fact, we can’t keep the Critter Cam in her cage without her messing with it. She is still timid around people, though, which is good because we don’t want her getting too comfortable with humans. She is a wild animal, after all! We are planning to take radiographs this week to make sure her fracture has healed and will hopefully transfer her to a local licensed rehabilitator where she can grow up with other coyotes.

This female coyote pup was brought to us late at night on June 25. She was found wandering around on a road alone in the daylight, which is abnormal for these animals. When she got to us, she was dehydrated, very tired, and seemed to be painful on her left front leg. We also found that she had fleas and a large number of gastrointestinal tapeworms. After giving her some fluid therapy, parasite treatment, and rest, we took her to get radiographs. We discovered she has a fracture in her olecranon, which is the bony protuberance of the ulna (forearm bone) that creates the point of the elbow, on her left forelimb. The fracture is aligned pretty well and is now splinted. We are controlling her pain and inflammation with medication while the bone heals, and, of course, providing her with plenty of food! She has been eating very well and is much more active. You may see some enrichment objects in her enclosure, one in the form of a plastic bottle with holes cut in the sides and filled with cat food kibble. She has to push the bottle around to get the food. These items give her some entertainment while she is here healing with us!

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student


View more past patients in our Critter Cam archive.