Friday, April 9, 2010

X-Ray Vision

Our "toxic crow," who was admitted to the VINS Wildlife Services department in March, was recently brought to a local veterinarian for x-rays. While we were able to rid the corvid of toxins and bring down his fever when he first arrived, the bird still seems a bit off to us. He is eating and has a normal weight, but for a wild bird his demeanor is a tad too calm and reaction time too slow for us to feel comfortable labeling him as "healthy."

Watch a video of the crow receiving an x-ray!
In the photo, the crow is taped down for an x-ray.

When a bird still seems sick in some way and there are no more visible symptoms to further examine, it's time to take an internal peek. So, last week we brought our crow to the Kedron Valley Veterinary Clinic in Woodstock, VT. The veterinarians there have offered to assist us with x-rays as needed.

Now, taking an x-ray of a wild animal can be a bit of a challenge, as you can probably imagine. It's, um, a little challenging to reason with a bird -- they don't understand that the x-ray is a good thing, and they're not as easy to comfort with calm words and soft touch as, say, your dog or cat. But, as you will see in the video, this crow remained quite serene through the x-ray, which unfortunately, is not a great sign. Normally, wild birds are harder to handle in such circumstances, with their natural instinct to defend themselves kicking in.

We took a few x-rays of the crow, and the images did not reveal any abnormalities. That helped us rule out several possibilities, such as a small fracture we did not catch, or the presence of shot. So the next thing we will look at is the bird's blood, which may reveal an imbalance of some sort. For now, the crow is living in an indoor enclosure, biding his time and gobbling up his food each day.

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