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Thrasher + Car = Bad

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I'm trying to stay under the radar where wildlife rehab is concerned. When simply answering the phone constitutes taking on someone else's fresh, completely unexpected problem, one that is likely to eat most of my day, what you get is someone who cringes every time it rings. And all the other callers are Democrats, hesitating in silence for about 30 seconds, and then wanting money for this and that. I'm thinking of yanking the thing out of the wall. The number of calls I get on my cell (none) is about right for me.

I've gotten myself off the public lists of Ohio wildlife rehabilitators. I had to. I'd get nothing else done. But as my friend Christy said, "Rehab follows you, wherever you go." 


This brown thrasher came to me via a Facebook message on May 17. Guessing at its sex, I called it a female. She'd been hit by a car and found stunned and gasping in the middle of a busy intersection that roars through some beautiful thrasher habitat. 

When I picked her up at my good Samaritan's home, she could hardly move. The slightest exertion resulted in an open bill and loud gasping, with a clicking noise called crepitation. When you hear crepitation, you can assume the bird's airways are compromised. The clicking can be caused by fluids or rupturing of its air sacs, which need to be intact to give it the buoyancy to fly. Crepitation not a good thing to have or to hear. 

I examined her thoroughly, finding no visible broken bones. Wings and legs worked, but she was totally grounded. The prescription, in an ideal world, would be an X-ray to see where it hurts. Washington County, Ohio is not an ideal world, and local veterinarians quite understandably won't admit wildlife. If they did, word would get out and that's all they'd wind up doing. So I go a lot on gut instinct. 

And if I can determine that nothing visible is broken, I don't see the point of sending a bird to the excellent but oversubscribed Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus. R & R I can provide, and my gut told me this bird just needed a couple of weeks of food, rest and healing. She was underweight to start with. Well, at least compared with the superfat baby brown thrashers Cletus, Melba and Harper the kids and I raised last summer. So I kept her in a pet carrier for a couple of days, feeding her and leaving her alone. She barely moved, even when I changed her dishes and papers. Hurting bad, she was.

After a couple of days, she started rattling around in the carrier, and it was time to move her to more spacious quarters. I pulled out the flight tent and put it up in our garage. One whole side of zippers has given out and I have to secure them now with clothespins. It's an incredibly flimsy piece of overseas-made crap, far too delicate to be erected out in the yard, where the slightest gust would roll it over, but it works just well enough to contain most birds. Must be why they call it the Zephyr. 

The thrasher seemed thrilled and overwhelmed at the new digs. She spent the whole first afternoon trying to get out the front of it.

Then she settled down a bit and started using her perches. I offered her unmedicated chick starter, live mealworms, sunflower chips, and fresh berries. Oddly, at first she ate a lot of chick starter, in preference to mealworms. My baby thrashers liked it too. It's nice to have a nutritious pelleted food I can offer wild birds, and even nicer when they accept it.

I could literally see her gaining weight, though I wasn't about to capture her or lay a finger on her until it was time for release.

I'll leave her, and you, here to heal awhile. The Rest of the Story is coming up.


I know when you see my number you say, oh crap. But I love you :)

The zipper itself broke? Or what it was attached to disintegrated? Send pix - Have Sewing Machine, Will Travel.

Chick starter! Wow, that is pretty cool.

Can't wait to read the rest of the story. Such a beautiful bird.

Friend called in a panic re bluejays & rat snake!!
Son headed off snake but one dead & other scared. Told her to put in box away from her ferrel cats up on tree. Parents loud. It would be a jay!! Know from last years run in with same snake eating my 2nd hatch phoebes not good result. Other died too. I've put out snake B Gone
All over porch rails as phoebes back & sitting on 2nd hatch. So far so good. It's an herbal product. Smells like lavender to me. But snakes have good smellers so it should deter....

Oh, she is beautiful!

I know what you mean, even though I am not a wildlife rehabilitator, about cringing when the phone rings. Each time, I channel Dorothy Parker, and say, "What fresh Hell is this?" Yeah... I don't like the phone much....

Posted by Anonymous June 5, 2016 at 5:45 PM

What a beauty!

Well there's a generous offer, Dallas! To fix a zipper on a tent!

I'm wondering since the bird is a "she", if she has (had) a nest somewhere. Or maybe that's part of the rest of the story? Thank you for answering the phone!

Ruth B.

Posted by Anonymous June 6, 2016 at 5:15 PM

Julie, at the rehab center where I volunteer we give pain meds in this situation (metacam). It really seems to help. Thank you for everything you do for wildlife!

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