The Good, The Bad, But Not Ugly…

Friday night volunteer and Shift Leader, Claudia Benfield, writes about the variety of patients she encounters during one of her shifts:

I started my shift trying to find an injured Great Blue Heron that had been hanging around for a few days in a particular spot in Albany.  The people who saw it said it had a broken wing so he was supposed be easy to catch.  When I got there I found the person who owned that particular land.  She was very nice and walked around the entire field with me for about an hour looking for the heron, but it was nowhere to be found.

Great Blue Heron, Photo Credit: Audubon

When I got to the clinic, a Wild Turkey was being treated for what looked like some pretty extensive and serious injuries.  I have always thought of them to be a very beautiful bird.  When you get a closer look at them you see all of the different beautiful colors on them.  This turkey had lacerations on his leg and chest area.  One of the chest injuries in particular was very bad and when staff examined the injury, they knew that the best thing for him would be to give him mercy and end his pain.  He was very beautiful and it is always a difficult decision to make.

Wild Turkey, Photo Credit: Audubon

The final patient of the night is actually another one of my favorite birds. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was in for a surprise…We got what I had thought to be our normal Northern Flicker that had been caught by a cat.  He had a severe injury on his wing.  I cleaned the wound as best I could and wrapped the wing.  I hoped that he could be rehabilitated.  At that moment I was mainly concerned about his injuries and how to make him comfy for a night. What I didn’t know was that I was overlooking the type of Flicker he was.  All I knew at the time was that he was squirming a lot and that it was difficult to wrap his wing!  When a patient comes in we try to quickly assess the injuries and make them comfortable so that the patient can have time to de-stress. The stress of everything going on alone can kill them, so it’s important for us to always keep that in mind. I also know that the Animal Care Directors will follow up with a more thorough exam once the patient has had the time to rest.  My job was to make the Flicker comfortable.

I didn’t think he was such a rare bird for our area!  The next morning I found out that he was a Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, a rare migrant to the Willamette Valley and that they are usually found on the East Coast and in the forests of Canada and Alaska.  Our area usually has the Red-shafted variety.

So it was another amazing evening indeed!  Maybe it was good that I didn’t find the Great Blue Heron.  And, yes, it was a bad ending for the Turkey.  But there’s no ugly in this story… that Northern Flicker was so beautiful and I can only keep the hope that he can be rehabilitated.