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• Section One •
Introduction to Medical Services
Safety and Wildlife Protocols
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted,
in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, by photocopying, recording or
otherwise, without prior permission in writing from
Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation.
Liberty Wildlife, P.O. Box 14345, Scottsdale AZ 85267 Wildlife Hotline (480) 998-5550 Liberty Wildlife Medical Services Medical Services Training Program
• Section Ten • Well Care Program All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, by photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation.
Liberty Wildlife, P.O. Box 14345, Scottsdale AZ 85267 Wildlife Hotline (480) 998-5550 Introduction to Well Care There are many animals located in the outdoor flights and enclosures at Liberty Wildlife. They may be education animals, permanent residents at the facility.
They may be active-rehabs which are animals that are still in the process of recovery. They may be non-releasable; which are animals that have completed their rehabilitation and yet would not be able to survive in the wild.
The active rehab, non-releasable, and education animals must continually monitored. The program that supports the care of outside wildlife is the Well Care program.
This section will introduce the animals normally seen at the facility. You will learn the four main components of the Well Care program: routine weekly visual examinations, monthly full physical examinations, close-monitoring programs (animal specific), and release preparedness. You will learn the steps to conducting Well Care assessments and routine check-ups as well as common types of close monitoring.
Visual Examinations First, as always, keep in mind the timeless medical adage, do no harm. If an animal appears unduly stressed by your observation, stop. If you are feeling uncomfortable, stop. The amount of human interaction that wildlife can tolerate (even from a distance) varies greatly by the species, individual animal, recent history, and even the season or the time of day. Only do what you safely can—for you and the animal.
The purpose of the visual exam is to provide regular monitoring of wildlife using low-stress methods. The visual exam is an extremely important tool and must be conducted thoroughly. Always take your time. In addition to the points discussed in this section, note anything you feel is unusual—even if you don’t see the significance at first.
The visual examination focuses on evaluating the animal by observing key indicators. This type of exam can be divided into two separate sections. The first section covers external observations. The second section covers observations that are specific to the animal.
Visual exams will usually be conducted weekly, but may be scheduled more frequently depending on the animal and its condition.
External There are many important observations you can make that are not directly connected with looking at the animal. First of all, you can determine that the animal is correctly identified and located in the proper enclosure. You can make sure it has been provided with the correct supportive conditions for its enclosure.
You can promote its future success by monitoring its medical chart, food intake logs, and even the physical condition of its enclosure.
• Prepare Determine which animal you will be checking. The schedule for the Well Care program is located in a binder on the desk in the bird room. Pull the animal’s chart and review it thoroughly before beginning. Take a blank form with you so that you can make notes during the examination.
• Identification Proper identification of wildlife at the facility is critical. This means the species, as well as the log number of each individual animal. Confirm that the appropriate tag is on the outside of the animal’s cage. Verify the identification information against the chart. If a tag is not on the enclosure, make one if you can confirm the animal’s identity. If you find a discrepancy with the log number or any other means of identification, bring it to the attention of a senior vet tech. It is very easy to get these animals mixed-up. Please don’t assume identifications, assumptions can cause mistakes!
• Enclosure Check the condition of the enclosure carefully. Look closely at each wall and at the roof to make sure they are free of holes or potential hazards. Look carefully at the floor of the enclosure, too. Ask yourself standard questions on enclosures. Are there any escape routes in this enclosure? Do you see any potential hazards? Are there snags that might catch talons or jesses? Does the enclosure need cleaning?
Has old food been removed? Does the surface need changing? Does it need more rock? Is the door functioning properly? Anything that you can correct, fix that day.
Any repairs that you are unable to make should be listed on the Repair Log in the bird room.
• Perches and Surfaces Many enclosures must be customized for the animal inside. Make sure that each enclosure you encounter is set up appropriately for the animal it contains. Animals with wing injuries must have ramping systems to allow them access to perches and perches should be lowered to prevent injuries. Make sure food and water are not located below perches as they can become contaminated. Also, make sure that the water is located away the door as it can be a hazard to people entering the enclosure.
The surfaces of perches, their heights, and circumferences should be appropriate for the type of bird. Perches should always be covered with sisal rope, astro-turf, indoor-outdoor carpet, or whatever other product is appropriate. Check perch coverings for loose fibers or hanging material. Follow the length of the perch to make sure there aren’t any slits in the wood or other hazards that might catch a talon or toe.
• Food Quite a bit of information can be determined from studying the animal’s eating pattern on the food chart. Monitor food intake closely to determine if the animal is eating. Is it being offered the correct food for its species and age? Note the trends that you see. Sometimes animals will eat one kind (or even one size) of food readily and yet leave another untouched. Animals that have been eating well in Intensive Care, may suddenly quit eating when placed outside. Animals that have not been eating well inside may be put outside to see if a less stressful environment will affect their appetite.
• Mutes Don’t miss a great opportunity! A bird’s “flight or fight” response will often kick-in at the sign of any potential threat, which will be you as you make your observations. The animal’s first action is usually to mute, to make itself lighter for flight. Take advantage of this reaction to note the condition and color of the mute.
It can be a good indicator of possible problems.
• Record Make note of all of your observations.
Animal Observations After making notes on all of the above external observations, focus your attention on the animal. Much information can be obtained by quietly observing the animal from outside of its enclosure.
• Attitude A good indicator of an animal’s condition can be its attitude or demeanor. A healthy animal should appear bright, alert, and responsive. Although it should exhibit the normal aversion to humans, it should not appear unduly stressed in light of its species and condition.
• Overall Appearance Does the animal look as you would expect from viewing the chart? For example, if an animal had a shoulder injury and was just put outside, you might expect that the wing placement might be a little different on the side of the injury. However, if an animal had a shoulder injury and was favoring one foot, it might be an indication of another problem. Observe the animal’s feathers carefully. Twisting or ruffled feathers might be a sign of an underlying problem. Is the animal banded?
• Perform a head-to-toe visual exam
• The animal’s head should be held in a normal position without any unusual or jerky movement or tracking.
• Are its eyes clear? You should not see any crustiness, drainage, cloudiness, blood, lesions, or swelling. If you can see its pupils, are they reactive and equal?
• The beak should be of the proper size and length, not overgrown.
• The wings should be folded correctly without drooping at the joints. As recent injuries can affect wing placement, it is important to understand the nature of the animal’s condition.
• The legs should appear healthy for the species and should support the animal evenly. Birds often stand with one leg tucked up, so be sure to wait until the animal moves before assuming there is a problem.
• The animal’s tail can be a critical factor in its flight ability and agility.
Make sure it is healthy and intact.
• Review the chart. If there are no problems that would limit movement or indicate cage rest, you can continue.
• If you haven’t yet seen the animal move, encourage movement to the degree that the animal is capable.
• Is it standing on both legs, using both legs equally?
• Does it extend its wings correctly?
• Is the animal flighted? If it is in a flight enclosure, flush it from perch-toperch and watch it fly. Is it flying well? Does it appear to be compensating in any way? Does it land on both feet normally? Is it hitting its perch?
• Is its breathing labored? Is it taking longer than normal to recover from the activity?
• Birds healing from wing fractures will often have a notation in their chart that says, “put outside and see if it can fly.” This process is not as quick and simple as it sounds. An animal that has been in intensive care for any length of time will need several days, or even several weeks, outside in a small or medium enclosure before it is ready for time in a flight. The animal’s progress should be monitored carefully as it progresses and, when ready, it should be moved to a larger enclosure.
• Education Animals
• The same process for estimating an animal’s weight using the food charts and other external observations applies to education animals.
• In order to maintain the animal’s training, education animals are weighed when their weights need to be checked.
• Only staff that are properly trained in the handling procedures for each specific education animal should attempt weighing. You must be trained on the animal and be signed-off to conduct its handling by yourself.
This is crucial to properly maintaining the animal’s training.
• Weighing procedure for education animals
• You must be properly trained.
• Select a scale and move it to a suitable surface.
• Turn on the scale.
• Using the proper handling technique, bring the bird to the scale.
• Ask the animal to “step off” onto the scale’s perch.
• Note the animal’s weight and record it in the chart.
• Record the details of your estimates and observations in the chart.
• Review the animal’s weight history and note any unusual gains or losses.
Full Physical Examinations The full physical examination is a hands-on evaluation which will provide a head-totoe assessment, the actual gram weight of an animal, and the opportunity to perform any additional procedures such as coping beaks or trimming talons. Repair of ankles and jesses on education animals can be timed to coincide with this examination.
Full physical exams are accomplished more easily if you work in teams. Try to schedule a time when you and another Medical Services volunteer can team-up to complete one or two exams. This can be done by overlapping shifts on a given day or by having an extra person come in on an “off” day. It’s a good idea to rotate the teams to get input on technique from more than one person.
• Prepare Before you begin, review the animal’s chart with your partner. Discuss things that you might check closely and the conditions you might expect to find. Prepare an examination area in the bird room.
• Visual Exam first Before you remove the animal from its cage, follow the procedure for the visual exam and complete each step. Be sure to record all observations in the animal’s chart.
• Capture and restrain Bring the animal inside the bird room according to procedure. Use additional equipment such as hoods or body socks to help calm the animal during the examination.
Conduct a head-to-toe assessment:
Carefully check the feet for any beginning signs of bumble foot or any other injury.
Apply A&D ointment to the feet.
Inspect the beak and talons, and cope or trim them if necessary.
Repair anklets and jesses, or note the needed repair Check wings and body Check mouth and head
• Weigh the animal.
Be sure to tare the scale with the weight of any additional equipment such as hoods, towels, or leashes before weighing. Education animals should be weighed from the glove by properly trained staff using the procedure appropriate for that particular animal.
• Put animal back Return the animal to its enclosure as quickly as possible.
• Record Record the weight in grams in the chart.
Record the details of your examination in the chart.
Close-Monitoring Programs A close-monitoring program is needed for any animal that is receiving scheduled treatment or requiring close observation, either ongoing or on a specific schedule.
Some examples of close-monitoring programs:
• An animal that is transferred from intensive care and newly placed outside may need to be on close-monitoring for a few days to be sure he is acclimating properly.