A Clark’s Grebe that was found oiled in Goleta and transferred down to our Los Angeles Wildlife Center for care presented an interesting challenge for treatment. Although he was only lightly oiled, due to being stranded, cold, starving, and burned by the oil, he had dead skin on both of his hocks that had adhered to the bones, which was a big cause for concern. After a full day of intensive care, this grebe was able to be washed and begin the drying and waterproofing process. Over the course of his trips out to the pools and back in for waterproofing checks, it became clear that the hock lesions on this grebe were infected and would need further treatment.
For the next several months, our staff invested a lot of time into treating this bird’s injuries. This investment was not only to try hard to save this individual, but also because these injuries and infections are commonly seen in diving birds and present a significant treatment challenge in many species. The clinical care of patients like this helps us to figure out what works and what doesn’t. One important new tool in our success in treating severe infections like this bird had is an antibiotic-impregnated polymer gel designed for use in dental abscesses in dogs (see: ClindOral). Our vet got the idea after seeing a talk on sea turtle wound care at a conference–sea turtle patients also often need to be housed in the water while their wounds are treated, so have a lot in common with Western Grebes!
After 105 days in our care, all of the hard work and specialized veterinary treatment paid off! This beautiful Clark’s Grebe was finally ready for release on May 8th, he was taken out to Cabrillo Beach and returned to his natural home in the wild!
We want to give our staff a huge thank you for working so hard and applying so many innovative techniques and treatments to this patient’s care, making it possible for him to have a second chance!