Swan Saved Amidst COVID Confusion
By Jennifer Taylor. Animal Care Coordinator
On March 20th, Wild Care staff called an unplanned meeting to address how we were to cope with the COVID-19 situation in anticipation of an Emergency Order from Governor Baker. We had a whirlwind of questions to face… Do we close? How do we take care of the current animals? Who would work? Do we continue accepting new patients? What new protocols will we need? Questions workplaces were asking themselves EVERYWHERE.
The phone rang. It was a welcomed interruption to the COVID discussion. Something I had control over. A swan had been hit-by-a-car in Dennis. Two women had stopped to help and pulled the bird off the front of the car. Its foot was stuck in the grill. The distressed caller said the policeman told her to leave the swan on the side of the road. (I am sure the officer was in the throes of the stress of COVID-19). She felt panicked. No conclusive decisions were made about patient intake at our meeting as of yet, so I told the caller to bring the bird in to us ASAP, and to call us on the phone when she got to our parking lot, and then to stay in the car until we come out to get the bird. I wasn’t sure if this would be our last patient for a while.
When they arrived, the driver came out of the car reenacting the scene while the other woman sat in the back seat holding the injured swan on her lap. The three of us were feeling the new fear of the pandemic, but doing this act of kindness at that moment was so important for them and pivotal for me. I realized in that moment, how Wild Care would play a role during COVID-19. I handed the women hand sanitizer and felt better about the world.
For a direct hit on the highway, this bird was in much better shape than expected. The leg that was in the car’s grill had abrasions with the foot knuckled in. Its beak had minor wounds. No head trauma or internal injury, wings tucked in nicely and its demeanor was aggressive – hissing and striking at me, always a good sign for a swan.
With x-rays showing no fractures we gave it NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs) and supportive care, in a small enclosure for a few days. It gradually stood and used its injured leg. Its knuckled foot spread out on its own without us having to splint it. The bird was eating well and creating two loads of laundry per day. We were glad to graduate our recovering bird to our large aviary with a pool, and trees to hide behind, along with our wonderful camera to watch its behavior.
After eleven days of recovery, our staff member, Leah Myrbeck, released it in waters near the highway rescue site. Mute Swan #102 was not the last patient for a while. Wild Care decided to remain open in a limited capacity and to continue answering our helpline seven days a week in order to serve the community.
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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!