I am proclaiming Rehab Season 2018 to be officially over. A few days ago I released the last crow — a juvi who arrived in August with a droopy wing. Two vets examined him and announced there was no medical reason for the wing to be droopy, or, to quote Monty Python, “this is not happening!” So it was up to Droopy to make the next move. (Yes, I have advanced degrees, and yes I named him “Droopy.” So sue me. It was the end of the season and I was tired.) He hung out on the ground for a while and then managed to get to a perch about a foot off the ground, moving up slowly until he was able to camp out on the high perch. Because I am an Evil Person, I put his food on the floor, necessitating a few trips down and up each day. I honestly didn’t think he would be releasable but he kept at it and eventually was flying around the enclosure. I wasn’t sure what the release would reveal but the good news is the release photo (above) was a bunch of trees, i.e. no crow. He was outta there before I could get the camera up and running.
So we have a happy ending to a miserable rehab season. I dread sending in my annual report to the Federal and State authorities. I usually have about a 60% release rate but because of the West Nile Virus this year, it’s going to be a lot lower than that. If misery loves company, I’m in a Toyko subway car during rush hour. I spoke with a vet at a rehabber event and she said she’s not getting in any juvenile raptors as she usually does. This is the time of year that Mom and Dad boot the kids off their territory and they run into trouble trying to take care of themselves. We could only surmise that so few chicks survived WNV that the number of juveniles out there to be found and sent to rehab is way down.
But onto the fun part of the end of the rehab season: revealing the Miracle Bird of the Season. This year’s winner is a crow that came in with West Nile Virus. The disease had taken its toll. His weight was down and his feathers were glorified stalks of straw. He had no energy even to reach low perches. The vet took one look at him said he doubted the bird was releasable. I even managed to arrange a placement at a nature center in Ohio. But Our Friend began to rally. He somehow found the energy to molt and his flight skills began to reemerge. His fear of humans returned. When he flew a perfect oval around the flight cage, it occurred to be that he might be releasable after all. I put a hold on the transfer paperwork and got in touch with the person who had turned him in. I made the 45 minute drive to her home and opened the carrier box. The bird hunkered down, so I pick him up and then he took off. A few minutes later, we heard the sweetest sound in the world: two crows calling to each other. Our buddy was home.