Watch the Critter Cam Livestream

Nov 27, 2018 / General News

[Eastern Box Turtle}

Now Livestreaming: Eastern Box Turtle

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 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

Previously Featured

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

Juvenile Bald Eagle

[juvenile bald eagle]Update: Our juvenile bald eagle is back in good health and no injuries were found on radiographs, so he has been sent to the Illinois Raptor Center for flight conditioning. As soon as they are confident he can fly and hunt on his own, he will be released in the area where he was found!

If you’re wondering why he doesn’t look quite like a typical image of a bald eagle, it’s because he is a baby. Juvenile bald eagles 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.

This guy came to us because he was very weak and could not fly. We found that he was extremely thin and lethargic. After a couple of days of supportive care with fluids and tube feeding, he perked up significantly and began eating a ton of food on his own! He had a heavy load of gastrointestinal parasites, which we are currently treating, but no other problems that we could find. Since he is very young he may have not been hunting and feeding himself well, which sometimes happens with immature eagles. We are in the process of getting him up to a good weight. He needs to be nice and healthy to be put under anesthesia so we can take some radiographs (x-rays) to check for any injuries. Hopefully we won’t find any issues and this guy can be on his way back out into the wild!

—Cassie Vespa, second-year veterinary student

Barred Owl

[barred owl]This barred owl came to us with a broken humerus and broken major and minor metacarpals on that wing (essentially the bird equivalents to your upper arm bone and your hand bones). We fixed the humerus fracture surgically with some pins and an external acrylic bar attached to the pins to keep them aligned and are keeping the metacarpal fractures aligned with a splint. In addition to his wing fractures, this poor owl also had an eye injury that did not improve despite our best efforts. Since we were not able to improve the eye injury and barred owls do not need both eyes to survive in the wild, we performed an evisceration of the eye. This surgery involved removing most of the injured eye, but leaving the underlying structure of it rather than removing the entire eyeball (a procedure called an enucleation). It is important to leave the underlying structure of the eye when removing owl eyes because the shape of an owl’s face helps it to hear properly, which is very important to its ability to hunt. Both surgeries went well, and we are hoping with some physical therapy and cage rest, this guy will eventually be out in the wild, even if he does look a little bit more like a pirate.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Red-Tailed Hawk

[Red-tailed Hawk on Critter Cam]Update: We transferred him to a rehabber for some continued healing and flight reconditioning. Hopefully he will be back out in the wild in no time. 

This week on the Critter Cam we’re featuring a red-tailed hawk that was brought into the Wildlife Medical Clinic after being found unable to fly away. During initial exam, the only obvious problems that we found were dehydration and anemia (lower than normal red blood cells). We then took some radiographs, or X-rays, and found that this little guy has a fractured right coracoid. The coracoid is a bone in bird shoulders that is sort of a strut supporting the shoulder and anchoring it to the top of the keel, which is similar to a sternum. Due to the location of this bone, it is very difficult to perform surgery on. This means we’ll need to keep this bird’s wing in a figure 8 and body wrap to keep the fracture stable until it heals. In the meantime, we’ll continue to keep an eye on this guy’s bloodwork to make sure the anemia continues to improve. He is feisty, so we have our fingers crossed that he will make a full recovery. On a side note, you might notice that this red tailed hawk’s coloring is much darker than most of the red tailed hawks that we have featured in the past. This is because red tailed hawks have multiple different color morphs, and this guy is a dark morph, which is one of the color morphs we don’t see very frequently.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Barred Owl

Update on Feb. 21: The barred owl continues to do well. We’re continuing physical therapy and will monitor his fracture healing with radiographs. Hopefully this time around he will heal up as planned!

Update on Feb. 14: We took this guy’s pins out a week ago, and the fracture was still unstable (darn!). On Monday, we performed a second surgery to realign the fracture and “freshen up” the fracture site. His surgery went well, but unfortunately this means this little owl has to extend his stay with us for a few more weeks.

Since things are pretty slow in the Wildlife Medical Clinic due to the weather, we’re experiencing a little deja vu this week on the Critter Cam. The barred owl that is featured is actually the same one we previously had on the Critter Cam. He is still doing well and it has now been six weeks since we repaired his fracture. Normally, bird fractures heal enough for us to remove their hardware in three to four weeks. For some reason, though, this bird’s fracture hasn’t been showing obvious signs of healing during our re-check radiographs (x-rays). We will remove the hardware this week and if the humerus is stable he’ll be on his way to recovery. If the humerus is not stable, we’ll have to perform another surgery, and hopefully the second attempt will do the trick. We have our fingers crossed, though, that the humerus will be stable despite what it looked like on radiographs and that a second surgery won’t be necessary. Make sure you think good thoughts for this bird, and hopefully he’ll be ready to be sent to a rehabber for flight conditioning soon!

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Red-Shouldered Hawk

red-shouldered hawkUpdate: This patient healed up and was very bright and active, so we sent him to a licensed rehabilitator to build up some flight muscles again. Hopefully he’ll continue to do well and will be back out in the wild in no time. 

This week on the Critter Cam we have a red-shouldered hawk that was admitted to our clinic with an old radius and ulna fracture. This hawk’s fracture had actually started to heal, but unfortunately the bones were not aligned correctly. This meant we had to do surgery to break down the bony callus that had formed and realign the radius and ulna using metal pins and an external fixator. This particular fracture took longer to heal than usual, partially due to the chronic nature of the initial fracture, and partially due to an infection that had developed at one of the pin sites. We took some samples of the infection and switched up the antibiotics we were using and luckily, the infection has resolved and the bones have healed well, so we were able to remove this hawk’s hardware. Throughout this patient’s stay we have been performing physical therapy and laser therapy, and now that the hardware has been removed, we’re giving this hawk some space to spread its wings. Hopefully in the next week or two we can discontinue pain medication and send this hawk to a licensed rehabilitator for flight reconditioning.

—Kara Hiebert, second-year veterinary student

Barred Owl

barred owlUpdate: The barred owl is still doing well under our care. The humerus has not healed quite enough for us to remove the hardware, but we will take more radiographs (x-rays) in a week or so to check again. Hopefully this bird will be on its way to flight reconditioning and then released soon!

An adult barred owl was admitted to the Wildlife Medical Clinic after being found unable to fly. On physical examination, students found that this patient was suffering from an open fracture of his right humerus (bone between shoulder and elbow). A few days later, the patient had surgery to place pins and other hardware in order to properly align and stabilize the broken bone. The surgery went quite well and this patient has been on the road to recovery for about three weeks now! In his care here, he has received proper pain management, as well as an antibiotic to prevent any infection from developing. Additionally, we have been performing physical therapy on his joints and using a laser to help reduce inflammation and promote bone healing. Hopefully, in the next week or two, we can remove the hardware and send him to a wildlife rehabilitator for flight conditioning before release!

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

Eastern Screech Owl

[Eastern screech owl]Update: This patient is still in our care and we will be performing radiographs in the coming week to assess the bone healing.

This week the Critter Cam features an adult Eastern screech owl. The owl in this picture is considered to be a red morph (there are several different morphs, or colors, of this species). He presented to the clinic with fractures of both the radius and ulna of his left wing. Fortunately for this bird, he was able to be brought into surgery just a few days after intake to the clinic. A pin was placed in both the radius and ulna in order to stabilize the bones during the healing process. With some pain management and physical therapy, this patient is well on his way to recovery! In fact, radiographs (X-rays) are being taken to track the progress of the healing ulna, and we are hoping to remove the hardware from his wing in the near future! You may notice the strips of newspaper hanging around the cage; this provides some enrichment for the patient while he is in captivity with us. Owls are nocturnal species, so keep an eye on this guy in the late hours of the night because he will likely be more active!

Ainsley Boyle, third-year veterinary student

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

[critter cam - juvenile red-tailed hawk]Update: This patient has been transferred to a wildlife rehabilitator for flight conditioning before release!

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

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.