Monday, March 21, 2011
Iris Checks Out
Iris gets ready to go to the vet.
Last week one of the cam viewers on the Cornell website made a note that Iris had thrown up two pellets in the morning, and she had burped and there were other loud noises. Red flags went up in my mind and I quickly found the section of video in question.
Iris was at the nest and chowed down on a gopher. But within minutes her head stretched up and her neck looked funny. Then she threw up. Not a good sign. But she ate the gopher again, then threw it up again! Her guts gurgled in protest.
I was concerned and knew I needed to keep an eye on her. It could have been a problem with that piece of gopher, it could be stress, or she could be sick. Later that day I reviewed videos from during the Festival of Owls (I didn't have time to review them during the Festival), and found Iris throwing up on one of those videos also, a week before this vomiting episode. That ruled out the food, and prompted me to call a vet.
I called Alice's former vet. She was willing to see Iris, but she is only in the office one day a week. If it would turn out to be anything serious, she'd send Iris to The Raptor Center in St. Paul. So I decided to make an appointment for Iris at The Raptor Center.
Really the first thing that needed to happen was to catch Iris and feel her keel (breastbone) to see if she was in good condition. But I didn't want to catch her more than necessary, so I decided to wait to catch her and check her out myself until the day of the appointment.
The appointment was scheduled for 10:30 AM, and it's a 2.5 hour drive to St. Paul from here. So we got up early, not knowing how long it would take to catch Iris. It turned out to be a piece of cake...she flew right into the net I held up to catch her!
I got control of her feet and felt her keel...she was in no way thin! I tried to get a weight on her while she was wrapped in a towel, but she and the towel together were too heavy for my triple beam balance. At that point I figured she was probably OK, but for my peace of mind, I wanted to take her in anyway.
The roads were icy that morning, and we passed five cars in the ditch. We even fishtailed ourselves, which did nothing to help my nerves. But we arrived safe and sound, and right on time.
The doctor took a history and then checked Iris out. She weighed a whopping 2080g (4.6 lbs)!!!! She certainly wasn't in poor condition. Her feet were quite dry and showed signs that she had hung on the chain link in November and December, so thankfully that issue is resolved. If let go it could have caused permanent damage to her feet. She had one feather louse, but didn't have any sign of a brood patch or readiness to lay an egg. Bummer.
They also ran blood tests which were all normal. They also did a fecal exam for internal parasites. None there either. So basically, our lady seems fine and dandy. Her feet were salved, she was treated for lice, and she was sent home.
When we got home it was Rusty's turn. If Iris had lice, he likely did too. We caught him with no troubles, gooped his feet (Hein got poked a couple of times), and treated him topically for lice. He did NOT enjoy it one bit.
Before we let the owls go I had Hein take down the far high perch...the one behind the IR illuminator on the ceiling. The poop trajectory from that perch hits the bath pan, which isn't acceptable now that it's warm and they can use it again.
Once that was done we released Rusty and Iris back to their home and they've been perching together on the high perch by the nest most days.
So what was Iris' problem? It may have just been stress from being harassed so much by Scarlett. Will she lay eggs this year? It's not looking promising. But perhaps they'll wind up as foster parents if there's an owlet in need.