From Iconic Bird to Bionic Bird

Free Me KZN wrote this story about one of their recent patients.

Cold, clear mornings are upon us and against the ice blue sky flocks of our largest Goose, the Spurwinged, stand out as they move to new feeding grounds.  With both an animal feed and a transport company named after them, they are probably one the most iconic birds of the region.  Often seen in large groups (there were about 60 at Thurlow last year), they are a relatively shy bird and it is very difficult to get close to them, making it nearly impossible to observe the clear spur on the wing from which they get their name.  Look closely and you can see the spur on the elbow joint of the wing.

spurwinged good - spur

On Sunday, 28th April, FreeMe staff were just sitting down to enjoy a quiet fund raising day at St. Ives (thank you again, Fiona) when a call came through that a Spurwinged Goose had been found at Thurlow with two broken legs.  When we met the people at Greendale to take transfer of the patient, it was unable to stand and was flapping helplessly, with its two legs just dangling.  On closer inspection, it was found to have an open break on the left leg and a closed break on the right, very typical injuries from flying into power lines or fences.  Early Monday morning, our beauty was taken to the vet who performed miracles and pinned both the legs satisfactorily, despite water birds being very notoriously bad candidates for anaesthesia, and often giving their last gasp as the final stitch is inserted. 

These futuristic looking external fixations allow our bird to stand and walk.

Spurwinged Goose with leg splints

Wednesday, we entered the clinic to find the bird standing on both legs and very happy to be placed in an outside enclosure for the six or so weeks required before the pins are removed.  Thanks to all involved, miracles do happen.

Curry’s Post Conservancy and Dargle Conservancy make regular monthly contributions to the excellent work of Free Me.  They need all the help they can get. Contact them and offer yours. admin@freemekzn.co.za

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