On August 12th, I was contacted by WildCare regarding a scalped racing pigeon that had been brought in. (A predator had caught and begun to eat her before she miraculously escaped.) Because she was a banded racing pigeon, she was not eligible for vet care and needed transfer and help ASAP. Thanks to the help of WildCare staff and a Palomacy volunteer, we were able to get her from San Rafael to Medical Center for Birds in Oakley for treatment. She arrived with her skull partially exposed and her scalp taped onto her head.
The extent of Blossom’s injury required that she be sedated so that her wound could be surgically cleaned and repaired. When she was anesthetized and intubated, it was discovered that she had a ruptured air sac as well (revealed by the way her body inflated abnormally with breathing support). She recuperated in the hospital for a couple of days, receiving supportive care. She had come in emaciated and, even though her scalp was back in place and she could see again, she wasn’t eating. But she was super thirsty and had polyuria (excessively watery poop). Blood tests came back normal and didn’t reveal any answers. In a couple of days, she began eating and they were able to discontinue the tube feeding. The thirst and polyuria continued.
I went out to Oakley on August 18th to pick up Blossom and as soon as I met her, I realized that the name I had originally given her- prior to meeting her and when I needed something quick for our and the vets’ records- Rex- was so wrong as to need changing (something I hate to do because it creates extra work and potential confusion). She’s a delicate, petite, shy little flower of a pigeon. I renamed her Blossom.
Once home and fostered with me, Blossom, on antibiotics and pain meds, was stable and her wound seemed to be healing but something else was going on. Her thirst and polyuria continued.
On 8/25, I did a routine weight check expecting to see that Blossom was gaining weight (she seemed to be eating well) but I was surprised to find that she had actually lost weight. I took her back in to see the vets the following day. She surprised me by eating almost non-stop the whole 54 miles. (She doesn’t seem like the adventuresome type so I hadn’t expected that a roadtrip would spark her appetite but it did.)
Once at Medical Center for Birds, Dr. Speer looked through her matted feathers to reveal what was really happening with her scalp. While a portion of the reattachment was healing well, there were places that had reopened. When I had looked at her scalp, I hadn’t really looked.
Dr. Speer checked the wound for necrotic tissue and infection but found none.
Dr. Speer added a few new sutures to help close the wound and speed healing. She received topical Lidocaine to numb her scalp and was an incredibly cooperative patient throughout the procedure.
The vets didn’t see any obvious explanation for Blossom’s weight loss, thirst and polyuria and recommended I discontinue the anitbiotics and Meloxicam in case they were contributing.
Today is September 2nd and Blossom is doing OK. Her weight is back up to where it was (though she is still too thin) but her thirst is, if anything, is increasing. She will drink this entire huge bowl of water in 24 hours. We’ll be going back out to Oakley next week for more follow up. Through all the years and so many pets and so many pigeons and doves rescued, I’ve worked with a lot of vets, many of them truly wonderful, but none more supportive, responsive, helpful, generous and dedicated than those at Medical Center for Birds. They work tirelessly to help us (and so many others) and that’s why we go to such lengths to get our birds all the way out to Oakley to see them whenever we can. They also do everything possible to help us stretch our dollars as far as they will go but even so, medical care is expensive and Blossom’s bill, despite the discounts, is over $1200 already.
Blossom, this brave young survivor of pigeon racing, barely six months old, was lost and starving to death before she was attacked and nearly killed by the predator that scalped her and ruptured an air sac. Pigeon racers say, “let the (training) basket and races cull for you“. To them, birds like Blossom, who get lost, hurt or killed while being flown, are worthless. As if Blossom’s life means any less to her than theirs does to them. It breaks my heart to think of all that birds like Blossom endure. They suffer a lot. Blossom is one of the lucky ones.
Please help us help Blossom and the others. If you can, please make a donation to support our work. Blossom and all of us thank you for your compassion.