Recently at the wildlife center we had to think outside the box to help an injured Brandt’s Cormorant prepare for release to the wild.
The seabird came into PAWS with a fractured tarsometatarsus (the bone between the foot and the ankle) and multiple abrasions on his foot. The leg was quite swollen, inflamed and painful. We suspect he may have been struck by a vehicle.
Our veterinary team applied a series of creative splints to this bird’s leg over many weeks to immobilize the fracture. This allowed us to give the bird free access to water at the same time his injuries were healing.
But because seabird patients have it pretty easy here at PAWS with all the fish they want to eat, comfortable aquatic housing, free of predators or competition, they can become a bit lackadaisical in getting the exercise they need to condition a healed leg.
To entice this particular bird to get in the water and to actively swim and dive, we chose intensive hydrotherapy. We increased the currents and flow of the water in his pool by turning up his underwater pool jets much higher than normal... We also built a fountain sprayer to encourage him to get into the water, float, paddle and dive after the live fish he needed to eat.
The Brandt’s Cormorant did so well with this creative therapy we were able to release him back to the wild this past weekend!