Watch the Critter Cam Livestream

Mar 20, 2019 / General News

[canada goose]

Now Livestreaming: Canada Goose

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.

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

Previously Featured

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


Osprey

[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.