Great Blue Heron: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week
Patient #3609: Great Blue Heron
Status: Still in care
On August 21st a great blue heron was rescued from Oxnard and taken to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Avery Berkowitz examined the bird and discovered it had a fractured femur. Staff administered fluids, pain medication, and calcium before letting the heron rest for the night.
The next day, wildlife staff anesthetized the heron for surgery. Dr. Berkowitz pinned the bird's femur. It woke up uneventfully, and enjoyed about a dozen fish later that evening in a special enclosure specifically outfitted to meet this heron's needs.
Great blue herons are difficult birds to rehabilitate. They do not like to be close to humans, and are not used to eating fish out of a trough rather than a flowing stream or plant-lined pond. Animal care staff and volunteers must work extra hard to be sure that this patient is comfortable while it recovers from such a traumatic injury in such an unfamiliar place. The heron's enclosure is lined with visual barriers so it cannot see humans walking around. Voices are kept to whispers around the bird so it does not get frightened. Medications and food are given quickly and carefully to minimize the heron's contact with humans.
Despite the heron's injury and the anxious nature of the species, it has demonstrated amazing strength and resilience. The heron was already standing on both legs the day after the surgery. Staff have a hard time keeping up with the heron's ravenous appetite –– it consumes dozens of fish per day.
Now, the heron is perching and even hopping around its enclosure. It still receives pain medication and calcium to support a healthy recovery. This heron has a fighting spirit, and even though it is hard (and costly), the volunteers and staff at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network will do everything they can to give the bird another chance at life in the wild. You can support this great blue heron's rehabilitation process (and BIG appetite) by giving to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network: https://www.sbwcn.org/donate