Fishing lures and line are the bane of the waterbird's existence. Other than getting shot and loss of habitat (wetlands), fishing lure/line injuries are a top reason why these birds die...most are never seen, and suffer a painful, slow death by starvation and hypothermia.
Luna is a common loon, the OR fish and game worked hard to catch her for over 2 weeks - if the bird can swim or dive or fly still it is very hard to catch them. It was a hard task and the biologists were caring people who really wanted to help this beautiful girl out. A big thank you goes to them.
They got the fishing line off of her, which was wrapped around her wing, around her tongue and down her throat. X rays showed that no more line was left in her stomach, which can often be the case with injuries like this.
Like most of these injured water birds, she came in hypothermic and emaciated. In this condition, rehab is very tentative as getting the bird warm and eating again can be difficult. Luna was quite lethargic, as the picture with her vet shows...you would NEVER want to be this close to a healthy loon's bill!!! They use those weapons to stab and aim for the eyes. but in Luna's case, she was so very tired she just sat there. Of course I was not far away!
She checked out fair, the wing injury is in her patagium (the thin skin on the forward part of a bird's wing and also some bruising. Her tongue has some dying tissue in it (necrosis) but is already growing back (bird tongues are amazing!). After hydration, warmth, and rest, we got her on some good slurry and easy to digest recipes. Slowly she has regained her energy and her attitude.
Starvation results in these birds being unable to keep their temps up, they get cold fast and too low a temp can kill them. So warming and feeding is critical, after hydration. Luna got to swim in her therapy pool from the start, just a little at a time. Now she is on the pool all day, with just short breaks for nutrition and check ups. Her pool has recirculating, filtered water - a KEY to rehabbing water birds since loss of waterproofing happens easily and a lot in captivity. Protecting that, her feet, and her keel is critical.
ote the green 'donut' she is sitting on, this protects their keels which can wind up with sores if their weight is not kept off it. Secondary injuries are often why waterbirds don't make it in rehab.
I will blog on keel sores next! Stay tuned.
Luna is getting better, wish her luck and if you want to help her out...please consider making a donation, she needs fish!
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.