Bat found on the ground and magnificent frigatebird rescued from the water

May 31, 2023

Now through June 17th, we are running an online fundraiser for all of the baby animals admitted during this breeding season. June 3rd will be our big annual virtual fundraiser. If you would like to support the von Arx Wildlife Hospital now, please see all the options below.

An evening bat and a magnificent frigatebird were among the ninety-four animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a common gallinule, two downy woodpeckers, a green heron, a Florida red-bellied turtle and a hispid cotton rat.

Evening Bat

The evening bat was rescued late afternoon after being found on the ground. A physical exam showed the bat was alert, active, in fair body condition and very defensive. Since the bat was so active and had no external injuries, staff administered subcutaneous fluids, placed the bat in a warmed animal intensive care to rest and planned to test fly the bat later in the evening. 

The bat was able to fly, but lacked stamina. It is likely the bat may have suffered soft tissue trauma due to the fact of being found on the ground. Staff set up a recovery enclosure specific to the bat’s needs. Staff attempted to hand feed insects. Initially, the bat showed little interest but after three hand feedings the bat was eager to eat. Staff provided a small insect dish hoping the bat would eat on his own and eventually, he did. Handling was minimized. Another test flight five days after admission showed the bat was slightly stronger, but not ready for release. Our vet prescribed two weeks of cage rest.

Bat upon arrival

Hospital staff received several calls regarding bats last week – all involved people finding bats on the ground.

Bats are considered high-risk rabies vector species meaning bats have a high rate of infection, but it doesn’t mean every bat has rabies. When assisting a bat, it is necessary to use personal protective equipment, such as gloves and a towel to avoid any direct contact with the bat. An easy way to contain a bat is to set a ventilated cardboard box sideways on the ground right next to the bat, then use a broom, dustpan or shovel to carefully slide the bat into the box. Close the flaps on the box and slowly rotate the box upright. Securely seal the box shut with tape. As always, if you have questions, call the wildlife hospital. We will do our best to offer practical ways to help wildlife in need that will keep you safe while ensuring the animal receives the help it needs.

Bats are often feared and definitely misunderstood despite being amazing creatures.

Bats provide nontoxic pest control by eating mosquitos and other pesky insects. Many species of bats are breeding and raising their young over the next several months, so the likelihood of encountering a wayward bat during the summer increases significantly. If you find a bat in distress, please call the wildlife hospital for guidance to ensure your safety while providing assistance.

Magnificent Frigatebird

The magnificent frigatebird was found in the water by the rocks under the Marco Island Bridge.

A photo texted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital shows a magnificent frigatebird struggling in the water, requiring immediate assistance to prevent drowning.

A volunteer with Audubon of the Western Everglades went to the location, contained the bird and transported it to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care. The frigatebird was dull, slightly underweight, and had ruptured air sacs along the left side of its body. Staff administered pain medication, a vitamin supplement and settled the frigatebird in a large recovery enclosure to rest. Since frigatebirds are highly stressed in a captive situation, handling is being kept to a minimum; medical treatment is administered once a day and a fish diet is provided twice daily.

A magnificent frigatebird rests in a large recovery enclosure at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

A second frigatebird was found in distress on Marco last week and in that case, Marco Island Police retrieved the bird and a Wildlife Hospital Critter Courier transported the frigatebird to the hospital for care. Public involvement is vital to the work done at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital; we are incredibly grateful for everyone’s help and concern for local wildlife.

Interesting Admission

A royal tern was found on Marco Island emaciated, weak and unable to stand. Upon admission, staff noted the tern had a silver band on its leg meaning the tern was part of a research project coordinated by the United States Geological Survey. Reporting the royal tern’s band number to the Bird Banding Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland revealed the tern was banded as a nestling, too young to fly, in 2016 on an island off the coast of North Carolina. The scientific data provided by the band is important to biologists studying wild bird populations. To learn more about the North American Bird Banding Program, visit

Recent Releases

Three mourning doves, a common gallinule, a common yellowthroat, seven Virginia opossums, an eastern cottontail, a pileated woodpecker, an ovenbird, a rose-breasted grosbeak, two mottled ducks, three eastern screech owls and a yellow rat snake were released this past week.

Annual Wildlife Baby Shower

There are many ways that you can support the von Arx Wildlife Hospital’s eighth annual Wildlife Baby Shower raising awareness and support for the hospital’s youngest, most delicate patients. The virtual Wildlife Hospital Baby Shower is Saturday, June 3rd. Donate gifts online through the Conservancy’s Amazon Wish List or Chewy Wish List through the month of June.

This year Ankrolab Brewing Co. in Naples is providing support for the Conservancy’s Baby Shower. The community is welcome to an all day family-friendly event at Ankrolab, Saturday, June 17th from 3pm to 7pm.  

Opportunities to Help

Visit the Conservancy website to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Volunteers help in many different capacities and are vital to the success of our work. Summer break is the perfect opportunity for high school students, college students and teachers to volunteer at the wildlife hospital.

If you can dedicate one four-hour shift a week to help in the wildlife hospital, even if only for a few months during the summer, contact our volunteer office and get involved. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships truly help us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see