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Wading birds

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Abstract

Long-legged wading birds are relatively uncommon wildlife rehabilitation patients in the UK; oystercatchers, grey heron, coots and moorhens are the most likely waders to be admitted. The most common reasons for presentation are trauma, including firearm injuries, fishing hook and line injuries, power line collisions, and beak trauma, and apparently orphaned youngsters. This chapter covers: ecology and biology; anatomy and physiology; capture, handling and transportation; clinical assessment; first aid and hospitalization; anaesthesia and analgesia; specific conditions; therapeutics; husbandry; rearing of young wading birds; rehabilitation and release; and legal considerations.

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Figures

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25.4 Thermographic images from a crane, demonstrating notable inflammation of one leg. Circulatory compromise from prolonged forced flexion, and rough handling can both result in notable lameness or, more importantly, fractures or leg paralysis. (© Zoological Medicine Ltd)
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25.7 Woodcock have poor rehabilitation outcomes, with a high incidence of birds presenting having been shot. (a) Lateral and (b) ventrodorsal radiographs of a woodcock clearly showing evidence of radiodense material in the coelomic cavity consistent with shot. Also note the very large pectoral musculature, which in dorsal recumbency will impair respiration under anaesthesia. (© Zoological Medicine Ltd)
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25.8 Safe restraint of a grey heron for anaesthesia induction, with the head held at the top of the neck. A modified drinks bottle mask allows insertion of the whole head to reduce stress during induction. (© Zoological Medicine Ltd)
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25.9 A facemask modified from a drinks bottle can also be used as an atraumatic anaesthetic induction chamber for woodcock and snipe, and covered with a towel to reduce stimulation during induction. (© Zoological Medicine Ltd)
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25.10 Reverse coloration radiograph of an intubated grey heron. The red arrow highlights the crista ventralis. Also note the taper of the tracheal diameter shortly after the glottis, further complicating intubation. Herons’ necks should be maintained extended during anaesthesia to prevent inadvertant obstruction of the end of the endotracheal tube. (© Zoological Medicine Ltd)
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25.11 Lateral radiograph of a common crane, demonstrating the coils of trachea that are enclosed in the bone of the sternum (keel). This increases the bird’s upper respiratory tract dead space, and needs consideration during anaesthesia. (© Rafael A. Molina-López)
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25.12 (a) Lateral radiograph of a grey heron with an airgun pellet lodged in the coelom: this was an incidental finding. Grey herons commonly come into conflict with aquaculturists with outdoor fish ponds. (b) Ventrodorsal radiograph of the same bird. This bird was presented for elbow luxation. These injuries usually hold a poor prognosis, but the bird was successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild and survived for at least 6 months on post-release monitoring. (© Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Rescue Centre)
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25.13 Radiograph of a comminuted ulnar fracture in a common crane following a collision with a power line. (© Rafael A. Molina-López)
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25.14 A water rail (), a rare wildlife rehabilitation admission. This bird was found exhausted and thin sheltering on a boat. (© Colin Seddon)
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25.15 Ventrodorsal radiograph of a grey heron chick with severe deformities of the proximal tarsometatarsal bones, due to rapid growth and insufficient dietary calcium. (© Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Rescue Centre)
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25.16 Ventrodorsal radiograph of a grey heron fledgling with pathological fractures of the radius and ulna. This chick was unable to stand, and developed these fractures by attempting to move its body with its wings. These fractures arose soon after arrival at the rehabilitation centre. In this case metabolic bone disease occurred secondary to poor feeding by the parent birds in the wild. (© Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Rescue Centre)
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25.17 A common crane housed in a small aviary, floored with artificial grass to limit the risk of developing pododermatitis. (© Rafael A. Molina-López)
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25.18 (a) Juvenile oystercatcher on towelling and (b) juvenile coot on thick foam, both housed indoors in the short term until feeding is established and they can be moved outdoors. (© Colin Seddon)
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25.19 Carpal injury in a common crane, due to flying into aviary wall when disturbed. Solid aviary walls (seclusion aviary) are recommended where possible. (© Rafael A. Molina-López)
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25.21 Lapwing being reared for release in an outdoor seclusion aviary with natural flooring. Most waders being reared in this way will do better if housed outdoors, compared to indoors, if the weather is reasonable. (© Colin Seddon)
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25.22 Rearing of a grey heron. (a) Time indoors in a cage is limited as much as possible, before moving the bird to a secluded aviary outdoors, with (b) natural flooring and (c) perches to maintain foot health and allow for natural behaviour. (© Colin Seddon)
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25.23 Hand-reared lapwings being released. This species has the best outcome for successful release following a period in captivity of all the waders in the authors’ experience. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of admissions are healthy juveniles that simply require rearing and that young are precocial in nature. (© Colin Seddon)

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