PATIENT: Great Horned Owl
LOCATION OF RESCUE: Augusta County, Virginia
CIRCUMSTANCE OF ADMISSION: Found unable to fly
ADMISSION DATE: January 24, 2012
On January 24, a Great Horned Owl was found down in the woods in Augusta County. The owl appeared to have an injury to its right wing; the rescuer captured the owl and brought it to the Wildlife Center for treatment.
Upon admission, Dr. Miranda Sadar found that the owl did have a right wing droop, though she was not able to palpate any fractures. The owl was also very thin and had mild retinal scarring in both eyes. Dr. Miranda gave fluids to the bird and placed it in one of the Center’s critical care chambers for the night.
The following day, the Great Horned Owl #12-0050 was observed holding its left wing out. Radiographs were taken; Dr. Miranda did not see any abnormalities. Since there was no apparent explanation on physical examination or radiographs for the way the owl was holding its wings, Dr. Miranda decided to run an in-house lead test on the owl. While lead toxicity is not a common cause of admission for owls, Dr. Miranda was suspicious based on the owl’s presentation. The lead test came back as “high” — meaning that the lead level was more than 0.65 ppm.
Chelation therapy was started immediately and will continue for five days.
Center veterinarians surmise that this owl was exposed to lead after preying on some animal that had been shot. Thus far in 2012, the Center has admitted five patients with lead toxicity [two Bald Eagles, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Black Vulture].
The center is the same center who is still caring for NX from the Norfolk Botanical Gardens nest of rescued eaglets.