Ibis found with fish hook in its wing

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

This white ibis was among the 55 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

A woman phoned the wildlife hospital for assistance when she saw an injured ibis walking along the fence surrounding her property. The ibis clearly had a wing injury. When the woman approached, the ibis would attempt to fly but could not use its right wing properly. Although the ibis couldn’t fly, it was still very quick and could run quite fast when approached.

Hospital volunteers Ron and Gaylene Vasaturo were contacted because they lived in the vicinity where the ibis had been spotted and they are skilled at challenging rescues. The Vasaturos strategically approached the ibis using the fence as a barrier. Working together they cornered and captured the ibis.

Once at the hospital, the cause of injury was immediately obvious; the ibis had a large fish hook pierced through its right wing. The ibis’s wing was bloody and extremely swollen.

The ibis was sedated in order to remove the hook. The puncture wound and tissue damage caused by the hook required the ibis receive a course of antibiotics as well as continued pain medication. The ibis is eating on its own and continues to recover in the bird room at the hospital.

Please, if you or someone you know is an angler, be responsible. Never cast your line if birds are flying nearby. If you accidentally hook a bird, do not cut the line. Reel the bird in carefully but quickly. A bird struggling against a taut line may cause the line to break and allow the bird to fly off entangled in hooks and line.

Once the bird is reeled in, cover its head with a towel to help calm the bird. If the hook is not deeply embedded, gently push the hook through the skin until the barb is exposed. Clip the barb off using a wire cutter and back the hook out. Step away and allow the bird time to gain its bearings and fly off.

If the hook is deeply embedded, or if the hook has been ingested, contain the bird and bring it to the wildlife hospital for immediate medical attention.

Special Thanks

Wildlife Hospital staff has been using a cast net to catch fish for a banded watersnake recovering at the wildlife hospital. We’ve had varied levels of success and varied interest from the snake regarding the fish we have caught. Bill Bowser of Captain Bill’s Bait & Tackle was contacted to see if he could assist with providing live fish. Bill offered to donate live fish as needed while the watersnake is in our care. His generosity is sincerely appreciated and deserves a special thanks!

Recent Releases

Three eastern cottontails, a gopher tortoise, three grey squirrels and two royal terns were released this past week.

A young great horned owl was able to be renested this week thanks to Ian Orlikoff, owner of Signature Tree Care and the expertise of two of his crew members, Dylan Jacques and ISA Certified Arborist, Walter Morales. Under the close watch of both parent owls, Dylan and Walter worked together to return the owlet to his nest on the golf course at Bears Paw Country Club.

Dylan climbed the extremely large pine tree using ropes while Walter maneuvered the owlet up the tree via a pulley system. The men even added extra branches to the nest to give the owlets secure perch options. Visit the Conservancy’s FaceBook page to see the amazing photos of the renesting process.

Opportunities to Help

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital offers many opportunities for volunteer assistance. Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.