CROW Case of the Week: Osprey (#19-0163)

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a large fish-hawk that can be seen along waterways or atop of stick nests on provided poles during nesting periods. They are known for their plunging dives feet first into water to grab fish.

These raptors have brown backs and wings to contrast their white heads and underparts. Some unfamiliar with the osprey believe they are viewing an eagle, but the two differ in size (eagle is bigger), beak (osprey’s is short and black; eagle’s is longer and yellow) and nest area (eagles nest in trees), among other distinctions.

At CROW, an adult female osprey was admitted from St. James City on Pine Island after being struck by a vehicle. During her intake exam, veterinarians noted a two-centimeter round abrasion on her right shoulder and another abrasion on her right carpus (elbow joint). Radiographs revealed that the osprey had suffered a right scapular fracture. She was given pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication to address potential head trauma.

“Although the actual trauma incident was not witnessed, based on clinical signs and the severity of the bird’s other injuries, a certain degree of head trauma had occurred,” said Dr. Robin Bast, CROW staff veterinarian. “Although the eye exam was normal – in severe head trauma cases there may often be ocular trauma as well – there was some blood in the bird’s mouth on initial exam.”

Veterinarians then placed an IV catheter for fluid therapy and a body wrap to immobilize the injured wing before placing the osprey in an oxygen chamber overnight.

“Oxygen therapy is used during initial stabilization of trauma cases. In this case, it helped both the respiratory system, since there was some bleeding into the lungs/air sacs, as well as improving blood flow to the brain,” said Dr. Bast.

During a re-check of radiographs, veterinarians discovered the patient had also suffered a right radius fracture. Both fractures would be treated with one body wrap, therefore the treatment plan was not changed, officials reported.

“Yes, since the injuries were on the same side of the body, only one bandage was required to immobilize both injuries,” confirmed Dr. Bast.

The patient will stay in the body wrap “approximately three to four weeks, depending on the rate of healing for both injuries. We will monitor this progress by taking repeated radiographs,” said Dr. Bast.

After a weekend of healing, the patient will have an uphill battle with rehabilitation, but is expected to fully recover from her injuries.

“The osprey is doing well with physical therapy and her treatments. She does not want to eat on her own consistently, so she is being assist-fed to maintain her weight,” added Dr. Bast. “It will be several weeks before she can move to an outside flight enclosure for further physical therapy and ensure she has normal flight before she can be cleared for release.”


CROW Case of the Week stories are written by Bob Petcher and appear weekly in the Island Sun and River Weekly Newspapers.

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