Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hello, little MODO!

This mourning dove (or "MODO", as we like to call them around here) endured a savage attack by a cat, causing tissue damage, missing feathers, and loss of blood. 

Watch a video of this MODO's care!

Luckily, the bird was brought quickly to VINS, where we could clean his wounds and bandage him up. Most importantly, we were able to start the bird on an antibiotic. There is a bacteria in cat saliva that is toxic to birds, so it is very important that birds who are attacked by cats -- no matter how small the bite! -- are brought to a rehabilitator for care.

Above, VINS staff Calah Beckwith (left) and Lauren DiBiccari administer medication to the injured mourning dove.

We are changing the dove's bandages every other day, and giving him plenty of food and water, and a warm place to bed down. We hope this lovely bird makes it!

Radical Red-tail!

This red-tailed hawk came to VINS for care October 2, and been steadily making his way toward recovery. He was found in the middle of Route 4 near Killington, Vermont, and showed up at VINS emaciated, unable to fly, and with a damaged left eye.

Watch a video of this hawk flying and being handled by VINS staff for weighing!

We suspect the hawk was struck by a car and lingered for days along the road, unable to hunt and fend for himself. In our care, the bird has put on healthy weight, can fly beautifully, and has regained some vision in his injured eye. We will live prey test the hawk to see if he can successfully hunt live mice, and if so, he will be released back to the wild!

See photos below of the red-tail coming in for a landing in his enclosure where we feed him. And don't forget to watch our video!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fixin' Falcon Feet

A peregrine falcon is temporarily receiving care at VINS after staff noticed early signs of bumblefoot in both of her feet. 

Watch a video of this bird's wound care.

Bumblefoot, which can have a number of causes, is an infection and inflammation in birds' feet that can be fatal if not treated. 

The bird, who was successfully treated by another Vermont rehabilitator for a fractured wing, is receiving regular wound care on both of her feet, which entails cleaning her feet with a special solution and bandaging them up. While the falcon doesn't love her wound care, she is taking it all in stride -- eating her meals right after treatment and flapping about in her enclosure.

This falcon's feet are wrapped in green bandages as her feet heal from bumblefoot.
Once this gal's feet are fully healed, we'll move her into our large raptor flight cage where we can watch her fly and be sure her previous wing injury won't affect her flight. Peregrines are the fastest animals on earth, and their wings must be in top condition for them to fly and stoop at the speeds they do in the wild, for it is in flight that peregrines catch their prey.

We have a good feeling this beautiful raptor will make a full recovery -- thanks to the good work of another rehabilitator, the expert care of VINS staff, and the bird's will to live.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Not-so-happy Ending for Nuthatch

A red-breasted nuthatch. Watch a video of this bird's exam.
A red-breasted nuthatch was brought to VINS Friday for treatment after the little bird flew into a bird feeder and sustained injuries. The bird, according to the person who brought him in, got caught in part of the feeder.

Watch a video of this bird's exam.

The nuthatch showed signs of head trauma, with one eye closed shut and a slight shaking of his head, known as ataxia. While we were relieved to find the bird had no fractures or external bleeding, his head trauma grew increasingly apparent after we gave him medication and left him to rest in his enclosure. His breathing was labored and his stance looked a bit weak and unstable. 

Unfortunately, this morning we came to work to find the nuthatch had died overnight. While head trauma in wild birds is often successfully treated, this bird's injuries were too great for a recovery.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pining for Pipits

By Sara Eisenhauer
Wildlife Services Manager

When we think of migrating songbirds, the more common species may come to mind: American robin, Baltimore oriole, red-winged blackbird. When I think of migratory songbirds, I long to see the American pipit.

An American pipit. Photo by Jacob C. Spendelow (

The American Pipit is a small, slender bird of the open country. Pipits breed in the Arctic and alpine tundra, and over-winter in the southernmost parts of the United States into Mexico. In order for some of these birds to reach their summer and winter habitats, they must pass through Vermont. Spring and fall are the times of year to see them.

Here at VINS, I have seen my fair share of wild bird species, but -- until yesterday -- I had never before seen pipits visit the center. As I was walking around the grounds Thursday, I heard a familiar sound coming from our recently plowed meadow. My heart skipped a beat when I realized it was the tell-tale “pip-it” call of the American pipit. During migration, these birds prefer to visit coastal beaches, shorelines, and recently plowed fields searching for insects and seeds. I quickly grabbed my binoculars and a few other fellow bird-nerds, and we watched our rare migratory visitors.

Even though fall will soon turn into winter, it is still a wonderful time of year to see the not-so-common northern birds as they pass through on their journey south. But don’t worry, if you don’t get your pipit fix this fall, they will be on their way back through in spring.