Its the calm before the storm here in Cordelia at the SFBOWCEC.  Most of our brown pelicans from the winter have been released.  We have a couple of handfuls of pelagic birds (Common murres, Western & Clark’s grebes) and our first batch of 14 mallard ducklings, but have yet to feel the wrath of the baby bird season.

We have had quite a few fracture/broken bone injuries in the past couple of months.  I’m a bit afraid of jinxing them by talking about the cases in a positive light, but here goes anyway.

Brown pelican W26: Arrived in Cordelia on 1/24 with a fracture to his metacarpal bones (the bones just past the wrist).  The fracture was old and not healing properly, so surgery was performed to realign and stabilize the fracture.  Four pins were placed in the larger of the two bones and attached to a rigid bar on the outside of the bone.

The pins were removed in two stages to allow the bone to gradually gain more strength on its own and rely less on the fixator.  Entire fixator was removed ~ 1 month after the original surgery.  Since then, the bird (a beautiful breeding age male) has been getting fat and slowly gaining the strength to fly.  He has been flying between the high perches in our pelican aviary, which are ~80 feet apart and 20 feet high, for the past two weeks.  He was examined today and it was determined that he is ready to be released.  Woo Hoo!!

The three other birds with fractures (another brown pelican with a fracture similar to that of W26, a Western gull with a femur fracture, and a glaucous-winged gull with an ulna {wing} fracture) are at various stages of progress, but, so far, all are headed in the right direction. Tune in next time for updates on those guys.


Shannon Riggs, OWCN Clinical Veterinarian

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