Nov 19

Patient of the Month

We received a call about a Great Blue Heron near Blackfalds who appeared to be walking and looking healthy, but unable to fly.

Staff was dispatched to have a look and after observation, help was called to assist in the capture. Judy & Gwen were up for the challenge!

Great Blue Herons, even those who cannot fly, are very good runners, and it took the staff on quite a chase before it was caught. Roads had become very slippery that afternoon so Gwen took the heron to her home in Sylvan Lake for the evening where it resided in her bathtub. Gwen referred to it as an angry heron, which was encouraging. Angry birds are much less likely to have life threatening injuries.

One chubby, annoyed heron was examined the following morning at the Wildlife Centre and was found to have an ulna fracture that was not displaced or open. If a bird has to have a fracture, this is probably the best kind it could be. The radius and ulna are the two bones in the forearm and when one is fractured the other bone can act as a natural splint. The bird had no other injuries so needed almost no treatment, just food, a safe place to recover.

Herons can be difficult to get to eat in captivity as they prefer live food such as frogs, fish, and other creatures living in a wetland. The one thing on their preferred menu that we can get is fish. It is a bit expensive but we can order cases of small fish at the grocery store. The next challenge is to convince them to eat dead food, however we have developed a sure-fire way to make it happen. If we thaw the food, stir the water in their pond vigorously, throw the fish into the moving water and get out of the room, the heron thinks the fish moving in the water are alive and dive in to eat them.

If this was summer, we could be releasing this bird within a month, but this time of year, it cannot be released until early spring. To avoid such a long time in captivity and purchasing a lot of fish, we may request the appropriate permits and move the recovered bird to BC this winter.

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