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Northern Flicker Recovering from Major Head Trauma

Posted on 21 November 2007 by Dawn Keller

Pam, one of our great Northerly Island volunteers, admitted a Northern Flicker last month who had suffered head trauma after a collision with a downtown Chicago building. After triaging the bird, Pam transferred the bird to our Barrington facility for extended care.

As we talked about the Flicker's treatment and prognosis, Pam broached the subject of euthanasia. Would the Flicker, whose head was turned upside down, need to be humanely euthanized due to the extensiveness of its brain injury? I told her that we'd had much worse recover completely. Brain injuries can take a long time to heal, but I assured her that the bird's prognosis was good.

Brain injuries can take months to heal, but little by little many birds can and do improve until they are once again functioning at 100%. In the Spring of 2006 we had a much more severe case (see our blog posting "Northern Flicker Fights Back for Freedom") who made a full recovery and was eventually released.

Pam's Flicker ate consistently - actually voraciously - but its head position didn't change noticeably. That is until Monday....the bird's head was almost completely upright! The bird looks fabulous!!! At this point, we will hold the bird until spring; however, we expect that she will fly away in full splendor.

This is why we allow animals the time they need to heal. Wouldn't you want the same?

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