Sunday, March 26, 2006

Birds of Pray

[Thank you all for birthday wishes, station wagon is indeed the present from my parents, which will fulfill the dream of not asphyxiating in dog hair every time I enter the car but it is still not here bcs I still have not decided which one to buy. Eh. So, Skoda Active, Peugeot 206 Sw or something, or some other make? Car buying is the pits. THE PITS.]

Was assaulted yesterday by a few, birds of prey and others. Took first-Aid for Wild Birds course, very interesting. We have a rehab centre in the middle of the city, in the woods (oh the difference in smell, OH THE DIFFERENCE IN SMELL!) near the university actually. A very poor centre and yet highly resourceful thanks to the commitment of a few, especially Dr. PM, I should think. I entertained dreams of volunteering in the 1st year, and then vet school happened, and then I didn't. Was hoping I'd somehow manage to this year but, wouldn't you know it, virology exam in a fortnight. Also, comp dying several times a week, if i ever write that saga I promise you will die of fright. Also, translation job, words fail me.

So these were the beauties I worked w [images may be copyrighted etc], the top ones alive, the last one very dead, which was fortunate bcs sad little bird had re-invented cachexia (which comes after emaciation) and a) I am not so good at this bandaging thingy yet [but do you know how hard it is to bandage birds' feet? Ends up looking like a cute Vet-Wrapped pompom but dead, sticking-out feet weren't helping much] [LOVE Vet Wrap though, and Vet Lite], and b) sad little bird kept threatening to come apart - literally - in my hands. Now, injections I'm good at, got my intra-ossea (??? IO injections, Diana?) ones right immediately, both the ulnar one and the tibio-tarsic one.

Curvus corone

We got them all from the non-releasable cages, there was a vulture that wanted to make friends - I didn't know this but vultures are highly imprintable and this one was a human-bonding poster child, very much wanting to jump into our laps if given half a chance. In the Grackle enclosure I went in w a colleague, up the slippery slope w the catching net, we were not allowed to bring in wet animals and that was a shame for there was a little, cutey, bald and dripping one that was also majorly imprinted and kept following us, barking very accurately. Hallo, look at me, take me, taaaaake meeeeeee! WOOF WOOF! But we had to break her heart and choose the ones that could actually fly and were not amused. Smallish buggers but their beaks can hurt like the bloody hell.

Buteo buteo
Buteo buteo

Then we moved on to the Common Buzzards, the biggest of all the animals we handled. They were much easier to catch than the grackles. Flying into the wire and becoming disoriented and tired helps every time.

Falco sparvarideo

Finally, the kestrels. Don't be deceived by the pic, they're actuallly quite small. Full of tricks though. There is a pair that has nested near my building. I actually saw the female tring to claim a flower-vase-space-thingy outside the window of a 6th floor (no, come to mine, bird, come to mine!) and the stupid human saw her and opened the window and broomed her away. HOW BLOODY INANE CAN ONE HUMAN BE??? A kestrel pair nesting by my window, that'd be a horror indeed. Stupid ignorant cow. I know they were kestrels bcs I got my bicnoculars and the bird guide and ID-ed them. Then one day, as I was opening the window upon waking up, the male suddenly flew up, belly parallel to the building wall and IN MY FACE, close enough to touch, and we both retreated in shock - it was absolutely one of the beautiful high points of living here.

I worked on these and the grackles in the clinic. Kestrels are a bloody pain, let me tell you. They use their beaks and sharp tallons as a weapon and complain noisily the whole time, even w a covered head. Ours was, to fit in with the theme, a bit on the emaciated side. His feet also were'nt as yellow as they should so I will wildly guess this bird wasn't in the best possible shape. Falcony birds have a claw in their wings, very cute. Anyway, it was my turn to do tyhe clinical examination and my colleague was supposed to be keeping the bird still and harmless within his leather gloves and bcs he was feeling a bit insecure abt it the feet and head kept moving and we spent more time extricating sharp, little strong tallons from my dermis and me replacing latex gloves than examining the beast. [We wear latex gloves bcs 50% of humans carry some Staph. strain in their skin and birds don't and you see how that could end well for the avian contingent.]

Egretta garzetta

Then we moved on to the corpses and my Little Egret was, as mentioned, almost coming apart in our hands. It was funny to see the 2nd year students diving for the needles and syringes (we don't have much of a hands on approach till the 3rd year so they're famished.) If my bird had been alive we'd have had to stick a cork in his beak bcs, have you taken a good look at it? Piercing! This bird was in such poor condition he had barely any muscle left.

We were working outside and it was getting dark and cold and damp and by the time we were finished the birds looked delapidated and so did we, and it was absolutely brilliant and fabulous and I remembered why I must become a vet bcs there's nothing quite like the sight of a released bird flying back into the wild and knowing you helped make it possible, you are one of the few who are not powerless due to ignorance and therefore knew what to do. [This is, incidentally, also why I could never be a nurse or a vet tech. To think I may actually know better than the doctor what should be done bcs I am more experienced in that particular thing or he is incompetent AND YET he is the doctor and his world is law - no no no, MY word will be law and I will be more than happy to be counselled by all but no helplessly standing by while an animal is butchered/maimed/killed for me.]

This post is called Birds of Pray bcs I did remember, see, and every so often I need to. I do have that untimely exam in 2 weeks and feel not in the least like studying viruses right now but every exam brings me closer to being powerful in the proper way. Those are my foundations, they will be the ones who make the difference, and it's perfectly all right if I feel overwhelmed and fed up and tired and frustrated with how bad it all is if I also remember to be appropriately grateful.

And grateful I am.


At 26/3/06 15:14, Anonymous Orodemniades said...

Pretty pretty birdies!! We had a kestrel - we think - in our back yard last summer, chasing after the sparrows. A day or two later I was walking up the road to work, heard a racket in the bushes and lo and behold, it was was back, chasing after more sparrows! Way cool.

What I love about feedign the birds is their attitude, that 'where the hell is our seed, beeyotch?!' look on their little faces. Not that I anthropomorphise them, or anything.

I don't know whether or not I'm going to feed the bird when we move to the country. I think I'm likely to get more squirrels, chipmunks, and racoons than birds...who knows, though.

At 26/3/06 15:55, Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Thank you for the wonderful post (and pictures)! I'm so glad you're working with birds, too. Someday I will do that - after I'm done having kids, I mean, which would be sometime after I start.

And the cork in the beak to ward off biting - what a brilliant idea!

At 26/3/06 17:01, Blogger CarpeDM said...

Yay! Birds! I love birds so much but don't think I want to get up as close and personal as you have.

You amaze me. You really do. All of the knowledge that you have and your love for are my hero. Which is fitting because the stupid wind beneath my wings song is warbling through my head right now and that's about birds. Sort of.


At 26/3/06 17:03, Blogger Savtadotty said...

My Peugeot 309 4-door hatchback served me well for 18 years, from 1989 until I sold it last year. The new owner is very happy with it.

At 26/3/06 19:08, Blogger Diana said...

Oh! Lovely! Wonderful!

We have lots of wild birds out here with the cows (the little fuzzy calves are just starting to appear in the pastures), including hawks, the occasional eagle, harriers, and the funny grackles who eat the bugs in the grass. I saw an egret fly overhead a couple of weeks ago. Lots of vultures. They skeeve me, but now that I know about the imprinting, I'll be a bit fonder of them. Plus, nice to have the waste management of the road kill, etc.

You hit it on the head. I'd rather be the idiot asshole than work for the idiot asshole.

At 26/3/06 19:58, Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

What is this caquexia you mention...Is that a Portie word?

I think it would be very interesting working with birds. They seem so delicate (hollow bones and all). I can't even imagine how you'd give a bird an injection...or vet wrap a foot for that matter (I never had much luck with that stuff).

Awesome pictures (I especially love the crow). And, WHO wouldn't want a kestrel nesting outside their window?! Talk about cool...

At 27/3/06 21:48, Blogger brooksba said...

I wanted to comment yesterday and ran out of time. This is a great post.

Birds are fascinating. I think it is awesome that you know so much about them and that you're able to help them as well.

At 28/3/06 08:12, Blogger twisteddragonfly said...

Just catching up on your blog, J. Flew the coop, so to speak, for a while. Not that anyone noticed.
Have to agree w/you abt why you could never be a nurse or vet tech. Now you see why my nursing license is quite useless, much to my mother's dismay. That and I have way more experience w/animals than people. Am currently living w/my two 12 yr old parrots==children==little people w/feathers. As one who will never have "real" children, they work quite nicely. I have had them since they both were 2 yrs old. I would KILL for my birds. (I had an owl once also. Quite long story)
Lovely post. Glad to see you are feelig like writing these days. Missed you

At 28/3/06 21:17, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Waiting for Doctor Lioness.
Keep going.

At 29/3/06 02:24, Blogger Dale said...

Beautiful, all of it, all of you. You're going to be the best vet in the world.

At 1/4/06 07:38, Blogger Henri-V said...

Wild Bird First Aid skills -- yay!

My cockatiel assumes he is the flock leader of the household, such cockiness. I have an instant dislike for anyone bird-dismissive. Brilliant, social creatures.

At 1/4/06 07:41, Blogger Henri-V said...

And I'm glad you see the autonomy of your future is near.

You will be a collected, compassionate vet. Boss.

At 7/4/06 09:44, Blogger brooksba said...

I adore the new picture of J.I.P. by the way. Give the girls hugs!

Sorry I missed you this morning. *Sad me* *Sad me really really wishing I was getting on a plane with DM in about two weeks to visit you. Damn, I miss you.*


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