A Life Too Short. A Robin's Story.
A Robin had come to live with us on Saturday.
(A low murmur is heard from the audience.....)
Oh Lord no! Not another story!
Yes, sorry to say another visitor has come to our home. VERY SORRY! Please let me explain. A lady brought a Robin into the animal hospital *just* as we were closing. The Robin was cold, eyes closed and had a head tremor. She found the Robin in the road FIVE HOURS before she brought her in for help! What was she thinking (or not thinking?!?!?) Why wait so long?
The Robin has a severe concussion and blood was streaming from both nostrils. Her right eye chamber is full of blood and the area around that eye was swollen. She was breathing / gasping through her mouth because the nostrils are blocked with blood. She had a skull fracture because I could see a slight dent in the back of her head. I don't think there are other fractures. She had **more** than enough to deal with as it was.
I gave her some medication for shock, brain swelling/concussion, antibiotics, pain control and some antibiotic ointment for her eyes. I gently wrapped her in a small towel fresh from the clothes dryer so it would warm her on our way home.
We set up our home made oxygen chamber for her and placed her on a warm towel inside. The brain needs oxygen and the added oxygen in her enclosed atmosphere would help her brain get the oxygen it needs and help decrease the brain swelling due to her head trauma.
After three hours or so, I took her out of the oxygen chamber and had another look at her. We think she may have been a young Robin. This year's hatch perhaps. We fear she is not only blind in her right eye but the other one too! She seemed unable to see her water bowl or dish of mealworms and chopped fruits.
OK. We can deal with that. We made up some warm baby bird food cereal and added a large amount of jarred human baby food (turkey with broth). We had been feeding her directly into her crop with a tube and syringe just as though we were hand raising a chick. She got her food, medications and we hoped she could gain strength while the rest of her recovered.
We once force fed a fledgling Starling (Grace) who has collided with a window and was very bad off for months.
Mike thought she had an elegant look and thought Claudia might be a name worthy of her beauty.
Claudia went back in her oxygen chamber and was there all Saturday night. Sunday morning the oxygen supply was running low so we scrambled to get more for her to improve her chances for recovery as much as we could.
She appeared more alert Sunday afternoon and even took a few steps. After she is handled she displayed her head tremor briefly. We planned to take her to the avian specialist and find out what he thinks about her eyes and general condition on Monday. To have lost the sight in one eye is bad enough! Just ask the Cardinal. But if she would be totally blind?????
Outwardly the Cardinal appeared 113% normal but he was found to be unreleasable because his retina is damaged beyond repair. We would not have know had we not had a complete eye exam for him. Although Claudia still had neurological issues she needed the same consideration. Maybe her blindness in the one eye would be temporary and resolve once she fully recovered from her concussion?
Then there is the matter of bird intelligence and communication skills which never cease to amaze me! Someone gave us a parrot in March of this year. She has a huge vocabulary. She has watched us care for Claudia.
When we were setting up the oxygen chamber she asked: "What are you doing?" ......and we explained it to her.
She saw Claudia for the first time: "Who's the pretty birdy?"
We had the syringe with baby food to tube feed Claudia:"What's that for?"
Sunday morning Olive watched as we gave Claudia her food and treated her eyes and then Mike just held Claudia. He pulled the bottom of his shirt over Claudia to cover her body and he gently stroked her beak and wiped the dried blood from her nostrils with a damp cotton swab. "What are you doing Pretty Boy?" LOL! Pretty Boy explained that Claudia had her nose blocked and needed to have it cleaned.
"Awwww. Pretty birdy hurt! Birdy hurt! Awwww?" Then Olive made sounds like giving a kiss!
Olive is about 20 ft. away from Claudia but she could see her every move and our every move. She seemed genuinely concerned about the hurt birdy! I know. I know. It sounds crazy but Olive was worried.
So were we.
Monday, Claudia seemed stronger. "Pretty Boy" fed her and gave her the medications as Olive watched. I had just made an appointment for her with the avian specialist when Mike said Claudia was having a seizure. It lasted 5 seconds at the most and she stopped breathing.
We did insert a tube into her trachea to breathe for her and then Mike started to try some chest compressions for her but she had died. Her body was 100% stiff within 30 seconds of the end of her seizure! For birds and small animals it usually takes a few minutes but this was seconds!
Her head trauma was too severe and we were unable to better control the swelling. Awwww. Poor Claudia. She was so young and we knew her for a very short time but she was already a family member and she was loved.
We tried all we could do to give Claudia a chance to survive her injuries. We needed more time for her concussion to resolve and heal. The ultimate outcome is in the hands of a Higher Power. It was not to be for our Robin.
We know people can do very well if they are sight impaired. Dogs, cats, horses, fish can cope to a certain extent and some manage to do well in a controlled setting. Our Cardinal is blind in one eye. That is why he remains OUR Cardinal. He does well in the aviary but he is turning his head more often than any other bird. He's checking his blind spot for danger I suppose. We have told him that no one will hurt or eat him here but he still needs to check.
How would a totally blind bird survive? Even in captivity it must be very difficult for them! There's Screech Owl at the Nature Center near by who has decreased eyesight due to cataracts but is not "legally blind." Claudia's trauma was very severe and I doubt that the delay in getting aid would have altered the final out come. ~SIGH~
We had Claudia a short time but again we learned from her and because of her. The care we give will be better for our next birdy guest because of her.
Dear little Claudia. We'll miss you.