Bird Dies After Extensive Home-Care

By: Joanna Fitzgerald, Director of von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A ruddy turnstone arrived at the hospital after being “looked after” by a woman and her kids for three days. The turnstone was suffering from paresis caused by red tide. The turnstone was unable to stand, could barely hold its head up and was gasping for air.

The turnstone was placed on oxygen in a warmed intensive care unit to rest and stabilize while his condition was assessed.

The paralysis the turnstone was experiencing meant, that for three days, the bird had been unable to move causing feces to become hardened to his vent. The hardened fecal matter made it impossible for the turnstone to properly eliminate feces and urates which led to a compaction. A soak in a shallow, warm water bath occur several times throughout the day ensured the turnstone’s vent was clean and unobstructed.

The paresis also effected the turnstone’s ability to blink so a regimen of eye drops and lubricating ointment was prescribed to be administered several times during the day and night.

Since the turnstone had limited access to water over the course of the three days, he was significantly dehydrated which required subcutaneous electrolytes be provided at specific intervals each day. An injectable vitamin supplement was prescribed as was an antibiotic due to the turnstone’s immune system being compromised.


The turnstone’s condition was critical and was monitored closely for any changes. At one point during the second day of treatment the turnstone attempted to stand which provided a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, the following morning staff found the turnstone had passed away overnight.

This story was discouraging because the woman knew the wildlife hospital existed but “was too busy” to bring the bird in for care. We understand people lead busy lives but that excuse was hard to comprehend because the woman lived less than six minutes away from the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Please, if you see an animal in distress, take action and make a positive difference in the life of that animal. If you don’t know what to do, call the wildlife hospital for guidance. We can offer information and assistance that will keep you, and the animal safe while ensuring the animal receives care in a timely manner.

Recent Releases

A fish crow, a Virginia opossum, two blue jays, a great blue heron, a northern mockingbird, an eastern screech owl, a great egret, two eastern cottontails, three laughing gulls, an eastern phoebe, a Florida softshell turtle, two mourning doves, and eleven grey squirrels were released this past week.

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