Two Rare Birds and their Stories

1This summer the WCV received a peregrine falcon from Siesta Key and a crested caracara from Northeast Sarasota County near Myakka City. I got the call on the caracara after-hours from a couple that had discovered it in their back pasture struggling to free itself from a barbed wire fence on their property. I only have two volunteer rescuers that routinely take night calls for me. Fortunately Caron Gleason, the closer of the two was available. After a little coaching she was off and running. Once on scene she was able to cut the bird free with the help of the original caller, Wayne, leaving a deeply embedded piece attached to the underside of the bird’s wing. Caron put the caracara in the kennel and was again on the move to meet me at my flooded driveway at almost midnight to examine and hopefully dislodge what was left. Caron was not as lucky during this encounter as she was badly taloned in the hand by our not so enthusiastic patient, right through her driving gloves. To make matters worse, she’s a piano teacher. Once we got her free from the bird, we were able to dislodge the remaining barbed wire from the bird’s wing, although it was not easy. Caron then helped me wrap the hanging wing in a figure-8 wrap and put the bird away before she would allow me look at her own hand. You have to love the perseverance of our rescue team although I hoped her students forgive me for those weeks’ lessons. The caracara was released one month later to the day at the Old Miakka School by Caron and her mother, Bobbie Gleason.

The second rare bird was the peregrine falcon reported to be an injured hawk on Siesta Key’s very public beach. Longtime WCV rescuer Jan Steber responded to the call not far from his house. The bird had a broken wing and Jan quickly brought it to the center for treatment. Upon examination, I could tell that there was a fracture in either the radius or ulna just near the elbow and believed the fracture site to be self-splinting, but the proximity to the elbow was at high risk for calcification and compromised joint movement. This was all guess work based on what we could see and feel amidst a lot of swelling and bruising. 2
I carefully applied a figure-8 wrap to the body and administered anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers. I then made an appointment with Dr. Jack Landess at Nokomis Vet Clinic for X-ray and possible bone pinning for this very special bird that I personally haven’t seen in nearly a decade. Upon examination and X-ray, Dr. Jack verified my suspicions that the fracture was self- splinting and recommended leaving the wing in a figure-8 wrap for 2 weeks, instead of risking any surgery so close to the joint. Two weeks later we removed the wrap, extremely happy that the elbow and wrist still had a full range of motion, although understandably, its wing was still hanging a bit low. The peregrine was then moved to a 10’X10’ Eagle Scout Aviary to recover for a couple of weeks. Now being conditioned in our new Eagle Scout Flyway, the bird is flying beautifully, but the injured wing noticeably tires more quickly than the other. However, I feel with time that this small falcon, the fastest of all birds, will make a full recovery. Jan and I both are looking forward to that release. Caron already returned her crested caracara friend to the wild and now that her hand has healed she has a great story for the kids.

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