The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is part of and located at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance. We are open 365 days a week from 8 am to 8pm.
A hooded warbler and a burrowing owl were among the one hundred and one animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a white-winged dove, a limpkin, a northern parula, a Florida mud turtle and a gopher tortoise.
Warblers Collide with Window
The hooded warbler, two black-and-white warblers and a black throated blue warbler all arrived at the Conservancy as part of the daily animal transfers from the staff at CROW (Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) who are working out of a pet hospital in Ft. Myers since their hospital on Sanibel is not accessible.
The hooded warbler and the other species of warblers were just some of the migratory birds admitted this past week. Most people who called the hospital reported that they had found an injured “baby bird” due to the warblers’ small size, but these people are mistaken and many other people probably are as well. These are adult birds that have traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles on their fall migration.
The hooded warbler sustained significant neurological injuries in a window collision.
Hospital staff provided pain medication and placed the warbler on supplemental oxygen in an animal intensive care unit to rest. With most neurologic injuries, limited activity, minimal handling and cage rest are vital to make a full recovery. The warbler continues to receive supportive care in the bird room at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.
If you find a bird that has hit a window or lanai screen and the bird isn’t bloody or showing signs of severe injury (unconscious/unresponsive, broken wing or leg), the best course of action is to contain the bird in a ventilated box and place the box somewhere quiet and dark for 45 minutes. The time in the darkened box allows the bird a chance to rest while keeping it safe from other dangers (roaming cats, hawks, etc.) while it regains its senses.
After 45 minutes, take the box outside near some trees or shrubs and open the box – if the bird flies away, all is well. The bird needs to be brought to the hospital for immediate medical assistance if the bird tips over, flips in circles, or tries to fly but can’t.
There are many ways to help birds that migrate to our area. If you have large expanses of glass on your home or office, please take preventative measures to reduce or eliminate the reflective quality of the glass. Glass windows mirror the images of the sky, trees and clouds that fool birds into mistaking glass for an open flyway. Shutting mini-blinds, hanging wind socks in front of windows or applying decals to windows can alert birds to dangerous expanses of glass. For more information on preventing window strikes, visit FLAP or ABC Birds.
Other ways to prevent injuries and reduce danger for migratory birds include planting native plants to provide food and shelter, monitor pets while they are outdoors and bypassing flocks of birds that are resting on the beach are simple actions you can take.
Burrowing Owl Admitted from Toxicosis
The burrowing owl was another transfer from CROW.
The owl was found in a garage in Ft. Myers and did not attempt to fly when approached. Von Arx Hospital staff treated the owl for toxicosis using an antibiotic, vitamin supplement, Chinese herbs and a holistic supplement used to detoxify and support liver function were prescribed. The owl responded well to the treatment plan and each day its behavior and health improved; after four days of treatment in the bird room, the owl was moved to an outside flight recovery enclosure.
Please, if you see an animal in a situation that seems out of the ordinary or in imminent danger of injury or death, take immediate action to help the animal. Don’t delay; the sooner an animal receives professional medical attention, the less pain and suffering it endures.
Message from our Vet
The wildlife hospital continues to admit baby animals orphaned and injured during Hurricane Ian that people have been caring for in their homes.
It is imperative for the orphans’ well-being that people stop caring for these animals in their homes and bring them to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for immediate professional medical care. I understand people had good intentions when they took these animals in during and after the storm, but our facility has been open since the day after Ian passed by Naples.
Baby wild animals have very specific nutritional and husbandry requirements; the milk replacement formulas used at the wildlife hospital are made specifically for wild animals. Puppy and kitten milk replacement formulas do not provide the proper nutrition baby wild animals require. Providing domestic pet food such as rabbit pellets and processed nuts and seeds cause nutritional deficiencies that can affect an animal for the rest of its life. Just as important to understand is that it is illegal to raise orphaned native wildlife without appropriate state permits.
Our licensed wildlife rehabilitators have the skills, knowledge and experience needed to raise injured and orphaned wildlife. Staff keeps the animals’ health and well-being as our top priority with the goal of releasing animals back into the wild when they are able to fend for themselves.
A marsh rabbit, a red-shouldered hawk, an osprey, a green heron, a white ibis, seven grey squirrels. A Virginia opossum, a gopher tortoise, an eastern cottontail, two laughing gulls, four mourning doves, two Florida red-bellied turtles and two raccoons were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
Please visit the Conservancy website to view all of the amazing work done at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. If you read this article, you know the Wildlife Hospital is busy – we need your help. Please consider becoming a volunteer. One four-hour shift a week isn’t a huge time commitment yet the amount of help provided during that four-hour period is phenomenal and makes a significant difference in what we accomplish at the wildlife hospital. If you are unable to volunteer, support our efforts by making a donation or becoming a member. We receive no government funding; monetary support and memberships are vital to 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 conservancy.org.