Web camera image: Lucy, LK forum
On Monday the family was still together.
On Friday Renno Nellis was in Läänemaa to ring, measure and weigh the black storklets. On the beak of one storklet a small injury was visible. At feeding the otherwise friendly storklets are quite aggressive – “first come, first served“ - and anything can happen. On Sunday the camera image already showed a more serious injury. Urmas Sellis from the Eagle Club and Dr Madis Leivits travelled to Läänemaa to check the situation and assess whether the storklet needed medical treatment.
It became evident that we had to do with a serious problem and that surgical repair was needed which was not possible to perform in the nest forest. The storklet was transported to the Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences in Tartu. Arrival was at midnight, the fracture was examined, cleaned up and the lower beak splinted. The storklet was fed, given pain-killers and anti-bacterial treatment, also anti-parasitic treatment – parasites were found in the storklet but they are typical of nearly all Estonian black storks.
This morning the storklet was fed, a blood sample was taken, medication given and a treatment plan set up. The beak was to be repaired surgically at midday. Dr. M. Leivits will consult with his colleague at the Virginia Wildlife Center, dr. Dave McRuer, and with the orthopaedist at our University. Madis Leivits has experiences of previous similar cases and an idea for how to fixate the beak. The surgery will be done under anaesthesia so that the storklet will not suffer stress from the operation which might kill a patient brought in from nature.
The blood analysis showed an elevated level of eosinophils which may be caused by the parasites but the storklet’s general condition was good. The greatest concern is that the storklet will begin to destroy all that will be added to its beak. The best case would be if the patient accepts the fixator; in that case nothing more would be needed than to fixate the fractured section of the lower beak. In the worst case the upper beak would need immobilizing as well and a feeding tube must then be inserted in the oesophagus.
Often however the outcome does not depend on our will and skills but the animal’s willingness to cooperate.