Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Grouse in 'Ruff' Shape

When this ruffed grouse first came in to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, he was in pretty rough shape. He was found on the side of the road where he was likely struck by a car, and transported to the Wildlife Services department here at VINS for care.

See a video of this grouse's care.

Upon exam, we found a large, open wound under his right wing. Since the torn tissue is right under the bird’s wing, we have to be very careful to avoid scarring so the wing retains its full range of motion and the bird will still be able to fly. To do this, we have to remove the dead and dry tissue around the wound, as you can see in our video, and cover it with a bandage and sterile dressing so the wound stays clean and moist.

While the grouse has been recuperating, he has also lost his appetite, which often happens to high-strung birds undergoing rehabilitation. It is essential we make sure all the birds that come into our care are able to eat well and maintain a healthy weight. To encourage the RUGR (Ruffed Grouse) to eat on his own, we have been offering him a mixture of mixed seed, diced fruit, live meal worms and shredded greens – similar to what a grouse would eat in the wild. Since the grouse was not interested in eating, we created a “birdy milkshake” for him out of a bird specific grain and veggie formula, and have been tube feeding him twice a day. As you can see in our video, to tube feed a bird we actually run a rubber feeding tube right down the throat into the bird’s crop – a food storing organ – so the bird can acquire all the nutrients he needs without all the effort of feeding himself.

Once the bird’s wound has healed and he is at a stable weight, we will release him back into the wild.

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