On March 28, a red-phased Eastern Screech-owl was found sitting in a driveway in Raphine, VA and was easily captured by her rescuer. The owl was transported to the Wildlife Center later that evening and was admitted as patient #17-0315.
An examination completed by the veterinary team revealed severe damage to both of the owl's eyes. These injuries are consistent with head trauma sustained after colliding with a moving vehicle or object. The owl was also gravid (carrying eggs); radiographs showed that some of the eggs had been damaged and had possibly burst within the coelom (the body cavity), putting the bird at risk of an infection.
Other secondary findings included a noticeable heart murmur as well as heartworms. It’s not often that our vet team sees heartworms in birds - more often this parasite is found in mammals. In some cases, heartworms come from a flat fly or mosquito that inoculates the larva in the blood stream. The larva becomes an adult worm, and the worms migrate to the heart. It's unknown exactly how owl #17-0315 contracted these worms.
Prognosis for this bird was poor due to a heartworm infection, chance of infection from a burst egg, and two injured eyes. After several days of care and assessment, the veterinary team determined that the eye injuries were too severe for continued treatment; the owl was humanely euthanized on April 3.