Well, here we are at week 5 post-op. Today Hope goes in for another round of physical therapy, and more x-rays to see how the wing is healing. I am really hoping she is going to show us that she is ready for her pin and plate to come out. The bones were not healed enough for that 2 weeks ago.
Given that Hope is going to have to put up with us for another at least 3 weeks, and more likely 4-5, we got her a much larger pool. Even though she has her 8' pool outside, it is now getting too cold for her in that water out there. The underside of the injured wing has no feathering and a lot of fresh, new skin, so it is very sensitive. She often holds it out of the water even inside.
The picture above shows her wings as of Nov. 26. This is full extension done with anesthesia during a physical therapy session. You can see how far she has come (we could barely get her wing to extend initially), but also how far she has to go. According to Dr. Schott, swan extraordinaire with WRCMN, she is looking pretty good. It's amazing how much effort I have to give to get this wing out that far. I really have to push on that wrist! My goal will be that it takes me no effort at all....
I highly common captivity related injury for birds that float on the water most of their lives (swans, grebes, many ducks, seabirds, etc) is that their feet are not prepared to be walked on so much. Even with water, Hope likes to rest and will leave her pool to go sleep and rest on her 6 inch foam bed. But that means she is walking around, on those feet we need to keep healthy.
The first thing that happens is the joints start to swell. In the picture above, the main foot bone running down the middle of the foot has larger areas, these are her joints and they are swollen. Once then swell, the increased size creates a pressure point on the bottom of the foot, which is susceptible to the skin wearing and eventually spitting. You can see the start of that where I have placed the arrows and the close up of the worst one.
This is not too 'bad' yet for Hope, but another reason she got a bigger pool and I go in and gently encourage her to get back on her pool. The other injury that comes with sitting is in the keel, the sharp bone that runs down the middle of her chest. During injury, a bird's chest muscles atrophy from lack of use, this means the keel protrudes more, and thus when she rests her whole body weight on that keel as when on her bed (the reason it is 6 inches of foam!), she risks getting a sore in that sensitive, fragile skin overlying the keel bone. That is not happening now for her because she is on her pool enough to prevent it.
Stay tuned! We will have an update soon on her soon. She will be with us another month at least, if you have interest in supporting Hope through this Holiday Season, please consider a gift to Native Bird Care. All contributions are tax deductible!
Author: Elise Wolf
I have been enraptured and fascinated by wild birds my whole life. I finally got involved in avian rescue when it became clear that while we need to do all we can to save habitat and ecological systems, for many populations of birds, every single bird matters. And thus, saving them one at a time is increasingly important.