The Rehab RavenPhoto by: Dawn Harrison

— by Dawn Harrison —

It’s the time of year when rescue and rehabilitation are in full throttle. It’s painful enough to see animals coming in because they have been orphaned or injured in accidents. But when we receive animals who have been intentionally harmed by humans, it’s downright maddening.

We received a juvenile raven over the holiday weekend who was suffering from a badly broken wing. He was brought to us by a lovely young couple who found us online when they were looking for where they could bring him. They were only in the area visiting for the holiday, yet they were willing and happy to drive half an hour to bring us the injured bird, which they found hopping near a local high school. We advised them on how to safely capture it. In the process, they were mobbed by other ravens trying to protect it, perhaps the the rest of its family.

X-Ray of a bird with a bullet lodged in his left wing

The Raven’s X-Ray | Courtesy of Maura

When we took him to Maura, the vet on call, to be examined, we learned that he had been shot and the bullet was still in his wing. There was quite a bit of infection and damage. Feathers had been forced into the wound and the break by the impact of the bullet. She was able to remove the bullet, which had been in there so long it had begun to rust. She managed to clean the wound and set the wing. He still has the potential for lead poisoning from the rusted bullet, but he is doing well so far. Maura thinks he has a good chance at being released if he continues to improve. Fingers crossed that he will be able to rejoin his family despite being a casualty of such a mean-spirited human action.

Orange the Chicken Goes to the Vet

Susan noticed that Orange, one of our hens, had not been coming out of the hen house even though the weather was fairly decent and everyone else was out and about. Normally, this doesn’t cause concern, but when it went on for a week, we began to worry that there was something wrong with her.

The initial thoughts were that she was egg bound or maybe had a hurting leg, but nothing was obvious. She wasn’t limping, she was roosting which generally means healthy, her eyes were bright, and she ate and drank when I offered her food and water up on the nesting boxes. In fact, she ate a lot when I offered her food on the nesting boxes. But as we were perplexed, we went in to see if there was perhaps something we were missing. That’s when we saw a very large lump on her breast. “I’m calling the vet,” was Susan’s immediate response.

Vet checks a chicken's vitals

Maura the Vet and Orange the Chicken | Dawn Harrison

So off to the vet we went. Of course, as it often happens, once at the vet there was no lump. This made a lot more sense when Maura, the vet on call, pointed out the fact that Orange had probably just gorged on the food I gave her and it was all sitting in her full crop. But that didn’t change the fact that she hadn’t left the coop in over a week. So Orange went for an x-ray.

Upon coming back from the x-ray room I was told how wonderful she was. Everyone agreed that their clinic needed an office chicken! Apparently she talked all the way to the x-ray room, did a final bit of squawking upon being put on the table, then laid flat for the perfect x-ray on the first try. What a good chicken! Upon looking at the x-ray, they found a perfectly healthy bird. So, perfectly healthy Orange is back in the coop but still doesn’t want to leave the nesting box.

A Great Squawking in the Hen House

We expect to hear some squawks throughout the day coming from the general direction of the hen house. Ordinarily, I don’t pay too much attention to it because it’s part of the wonderful sounds of nature that fill the day. But lately I am very tuned in to the chicken coop because Orange must have her personal bowls of food and water on top of the nesting boxes each day. The commotion I heard was much more boisterous and longer-lasting than normal, so I decided to investigate.

What I found was Randy the rooster making a racket as he kept all the ladies in the coop. It occurred to me that he might be the reason that Orange didn’t want to come down from her perch, choosing to stay in a nesting box as opposed to getting squawked at. Some chickens are just more sensitive than others.

So we relocated Randy to an adjacent pen, gently picked up Orange, and placed her in the outside run in the hope that this was, in fact, the problem and that she would get some fresh air and sunlight. She went straight to the grass and started picking the choicest, tenderest spring blades to be consumed. A few hours later, Orange is still out with her friends in the sunlight, enjoying the gorgeous weather. Hurray! Orange the chicken is better and the rest of the ladies will hopefully also benefit from the change in accommodations. In the meantime, it looks like Randy is in the dog house.

Dawn Harrison is the Office and Ranch Manager at Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. With a diverse background ranging from accounting and customer service to animal caretaking, her true passion is to help enrich the lives of animals, one being at a time.

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