Saturday, July 08, 2006

Alice's Baby X-rays

Next year Alice will turn the big 1-0, and as always, we'll have a "hatch-day" party for her at the Festival of Owls the first weekend in March. In honor of this milestone in Alice's life, her rehabilitator, Marge Gibson of the Raptor Education Group in Antigo, WI, has agreed to present a special program about the first year and a half of Alice's life which was spent with Marge.

I asked Marge about the possibility of tracking down Alice's baby X-rays that show how badly she messed up her wing that day in 1997 when she fell 60 feet out of her nest, down through a pine tree, and landed on the frozen ground below when she was just three weeks old. Marge had contacted the Antigo Veterinary Clinic looking for other X-rays not long before, and was told that they are not kept after five years, so she didn't think it was possible. Besides, at the time Alice was injured, she was just an anonymous injured owlet

I have no idea why I contacted the vet clinic myself to inquire about Alice's X-rays. Maybe it's because I'm stubborn. But I did call them. I was able to give them the information about species, injury, and approximate date, and I was told they'd get back to me.

A couple of days later my intern at the Houston Nature Center left a message for me: the Antigo Vet Clinic had called. They found the X-ray and would put it in the mail for us to keep. Over nine years later they still had the X-ray! Needless to say I was ecstatic.

Of course I opened the package the second it arrived. It wasn't a full body was kind of in two parts. The lower part showed Alice's wingspread and head, and the upper part had her leg on it. Two exposures in one?? I'm not sure how they do these things....

But Alice's injury was plainly visible: her left elbow was definitely dislocated and swollen. Marge remembers there being a break at the end of the humerus also, but I can't see it. Not that I'm trained to read X-rays either! Alice's current vet, Dr. Laura Johnson in LaCrosse, WI, hasn't had time to look at the X-ray yet to give her professional opinion.

At any rate, now you can see for yourself why Alice is "doomed" to a posh life of air conditioning, favorite foods every night, and commuting to work.

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