Boring entry, but with diagrams!

I drove out to the raptor center tonight, mentally prepared to deal with a difficult red-tailed hawk and bitey great horned owl. It was half stormy and half bright and sunshiney, so it was kind of like my mood – happy at getting to work with the birds, but less than thrilled about going out during the first of what will be many spring storms.

I got into the flight cage and tried to catch the owl first, since he did so well last time and I was able to finish with him quickly. He retreated to the very top of his cage, clinging to the wood slats, and dare I say he seemed to be relishing the fact that I couldn’t reach him. I left him for the time being and moved on to the red-tail.

As the red-tail sat on his perch and spread his wings in an aggressive stance, and I noticed that his 7th or 8th primary feather was loose and dangling from the other feathers. I approached him, holding up my hands like I was going to catch him, so he would open his wings again and I could get a better look. Sure enough, something was amiss. See the diagram:

bird wing diagram

bird wing diagram

I could see a very small amount of blood on the light-colored feathers, so I decided not to fly the hawk. I don’t know if that is normal (the feather loss), but I didn’t want to take the chance of causing further injury. I did bring my camera with me this time, and took a photo to share:

Notice the slightly askew feathers on the left wing.

Notice the slightly askew feathers on the left wing.

I moved on to the owl after this. It had started raining at this point, and the owl was still enjoying the fact that he was just enough out of my reach that I couldn’t catch him. I went to the dry side of the cage and waited for him to come down, which he did after a few minutes. I reached up and grabbed him from his perch, and gave him a once-over.

The previous rehabber had written in the log book that the owl had fresh blood on its wing on Friday, and I noticed the very same thing today. From what I could tell, the wrist on the right wing (which was NOT the wing which was originally injured) had been scratched and was slightly bloody. See the diagram below:

The owl had an apparent injury to the RADIALE on his right wing.

The owl had an apparent injury to the RADIALE on his right wing.

I did ten wing stretches with the owl, who glared at me the whole time and tried to bite my hand, armpit, and chest. Once again, I did not want to fly the owl and further agitate this injury so I placed him back in his cage and called it a day.

Here he is, looking fierce and bitey:

Ready to bite whatever gets in his way!

Ready to bite whatever gets in his way!

Hopefully next week I will have more exciting things to report. Until then….


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