Fishing Line Injures Reddish Egret

4 photo collage of reddish egret with broken wing and recoveryThe following story was shared with us by Clinic For The Rehabilitation Of Wildlife (CROW) in Florida.

On August 11, 2020, a juvenile reddish egret was admitted to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island, Florida. It had been found in Fort Myers Beach entangled in fishing line.

On admission, its body condition score (BCS) was thin and its weight was 690 grams (about 1.5 pounds). Veterinary staff found it had suffered an open humeral fracture secondary to attempting to free itself from the line. Full radiographs and blood work were obtained.

It was started on pain medications and antibiotics. An IV was placed to begin IV fluid therapy prior to surgery. In order to optimize the bird’s nutrition for surgery and healing, staff began tube-feeding EmerAid IC Piscivore formula. This was tube-fed three times a day to start.

As soon as this patient was stable, veterinary staff took the bird to surgery to repair the broken wing. An external fixator and IM pin was placed and the bird was put in a wing wrap to further stabilize the wing as healing began.

Staff began transitioning the bird onto a whole fish diet. Initially, the egret was very reluctant to eat whole fish, but it finally progressed to eating smelt and finger mullet without staff assistance.

Due to the nature of the injury, recovery time was lengthy and there were a few serious setbacks along the way. The egret also required physical therapy on the wing, typically done every three days, to ensure it wouldn’t lose range of motion in any joints. And because it was an open fracture, there was also increased concern for bone infection.

Thankfully, the egret bounced back from each setback and on September 21, was moved to an outdoor flight cage to begin reconditioning for release. After moving outside the bird started showing more promising signs: making good flights, navigating the enclosure well, and showing appropriate behavior.

After 62 days in care, the egret was cleared for release. At this point, it had a healthy BCS and its weight increased to 755 grams (about 1.7 pounds). On October 12, 2020, it was released at Bunche Beach, just adjacent to the area it was first found.