Things are looking up for an injured owl making a recovery at a local veterinary practice.
The owl was found a few days ago on the Brac, suffering from a wing injury, and with the help of resident Bonnie Scott-Edwards was brought to Grand Cayman by the Department of Environment to be attended to by vets at Island Veterinary Services.
The owl was found by students at the high school and brought to their teacher, Caroline Frederick.
“Since it wasn’t eating, they contacted DOE and it was flown over from the Brac on Monday midday,” said Island Vets’ Andreea Sleahtenea, who is overseeing care for the owl.
“Luckily, the wing is not broken, but what may have happened is that it touched an electric wire as the tip of the wing has an abrasion.”
Dr. Karen Rosenthal, associate dean of academic affairs at the School of Veterinary Medicine at St. Matthew’s University and a team of students have assisted with the case.
“Dr. Rosenthal is amazing with exotics and they also helped with bloodwork for the owl and other treatment suggestions. We are grateful for their help,” said Dr. Sleahtenea.
“As far as its injury goes, it will be a matter of time, since for the owl’s skin to recover, the skin will have to die and grow back, as we do not do skin grafts for birds here,” said Dr. Rosenthal.
The secondary problem is that while it looks like the bird was in good health when it was injured, because it did not eat for a few days, its health had deteriorated.
Dr. Rosenthal noted that the key to bringing the bird back to overall health, aside from helping its wing to heal, will be to help the owl build up its strength slowly and carefully.
Dr. Rosenthal believes the owl is a juvenile, which may have contributed to its accident, given its relative flying inexperience.
If and when it does recover its physical health, the next step will be rehabilitation.
“You really need someone who knows how to handle them, and the birds need a special large enclosed aviary to practice their flying before they are ready to go back out to the wild.”
Dr. Rosenthal was hopeful that the care the vets at Island Vets were giving the owl, including giving it fluids and slowly feeding it cut-up mice, will prove successful so the owl can once again take to the skies over the Brac.
Dr. Sleahtenea said that for now, the situation is “so far so good.”
“He is bright, and alert, so we are very hopeful he will recover, and eventually, be returned to the Brac,” she said.
However, the next hurdle will be arranging appropriate rehabilitation, as Dr. Rosenthal mentioned.
“In a few days, ideally we would transfer this owl to a rehab facility where he could be outdoors and slowly start to fly again,” said Dr. Sleahtenea.
“Currently there isn’t one on the island, which is a shame because we do get these types of exotics coming in from time to time, maybe three or four a year, that could really use this type of recovery space,” she said.
“If someone has a big property out in the country where it’s relatively quiet, who would be interested in hosting a rehab facility, that would be such an amazing thing, we would definitely love to hear from them.”