CROW CAWs: Pileated Woodpecker Makes a Huge Recovery

Pileated Woodpeckers are large, mostly black birds with a red crest and white stripes on their face and neck. These woodpeckers are found year-round in Florida. This Pileated Woodpecker (24-2107) was admitted after it flew into a window. Upon admission the patient was dehydrated, thin, and was partially paralyzed from the strike. Staff administered pain medication and offered supportive care including oxygen therapy.

After stabilizing the patient overnight, staff took radiographs that revealed no significant findings contributing to neurologic defects and no obvious fractures were noted. The patient was given physical therapy every other day by extending its wings to encourage mobility. The woodpecker continued to make daily progress in its grip strength ability in its legs and continued to gain weight while it recovered.

After a few weeks of physical therapy, staff saw significant signs of improvement in the woodpecker’s use of its wings and legs. The patient received physical therapy daily by using mealworms as motivation to encourage the woodpecker to hop from pieces of wood to build up its strength while encouraging the use of its limbs. The woodpecker is currently completing “day camp” or time outside during the day in an outdoor enclosure with plenty of room to make small flights and rebuild its flight muscles. Staff continue to closely monitor the patient’s progress as it continues to make improvements working towards release!

Window strikes are a common reason many birds are admitted. These deadly strikes can often lead to severe injuries and death to millions of birds each year in the United States alone. Even if a bird strikes a window and appears ‘stunned’ and flies off, they can often suffer underlying injuries that can lead to suffering in the wild. If you see a bird that has struck a window, please place them in a box with holes and take them to your nearest wildlife rehabilitation clinic. Help prevent window strikes by creating patterns on reflective glass surfaces by closing blinds, installing external screens on windows, or placing window films on reflective glass.

CROW Case of the Week stories are written by Ali Reece and appear weekly in the Santiva Chronicle. Click HERE.