We were less than two weeks into Baby Bird Season and already 70 birds filled our wards when a tiny, orphaned California Scrub Jay arrived. His left-wing had been nearly amputated after being attacked, first by a free-roaming cat and then by a crow. He sustained multiple injuries including a wing fracture and a deep laceration under his left shoulder that extended all the way to the bone exposing the shoulder joint and severing skin, muscles and tendons.
We cleaned and dressed the wounds, stabilized the wing, and started a myriad of medications to mitigate pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection. While we were far from certain the bird would ever regain full function of his wing, in light of what was happening in the world around us, his will to live struck a deep chord and we knew we had to try. Dr. Rupiper performed surgery, skillfully reconnecting the severed tendon that was no larger than a strand of floss, both layers of muscles, and the torn skin. Now, he had a chance!
With healing underway, we moved the orphan to join a nest of baby California Scrub-Jays also in our care. This gave him a new family. As they all got older, we were able to slowly increase the time between feedings and encourage self-feeding. Dr. Rupiper visited weekly for check-ups and we maintained a strict regimen of daily monitoring and medications.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. It was time to remove the sutures and see how well our patient had healed. The left-wing was weak, but it was functional! Now came the next hurdle—physical therapy (PT).
By this time the little group of Jays were eating on their own. We moved them to an outside aviary and started our little survivor on PT, transitioning quickly from twice daily manual manipulations to full flight conditioning. After a couple more weeks, our once broken baby Jay was flying perfectly! Bright and early one April morning, two of our Clinic Supervisors packed up all the Jays for release. It was truly a magical moment to watch this miracle bird going back into the wild. Against all the odds, he was alive and thriving.