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Red-tailed Hawk with Broken Jaw Has Surgery

Posted on 26 August 2006 by Dawn Keller

Earlier this week Lake County Animal Control brought us a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk that was hit by a car or truck and found on the shoulder of Route 173 in Antioch. The bird was in good condition upon arrival except for a broken lower jaw and soft tissue swelling on its right leg. The fracture to the jaw was compound with ragged edge of the jaw bone protruding.

The bird arrived at Flint Creek Wildlife with a full crop indicating that it had just finished a meal before it was hit. Perhaps it was flying low, heavier than normal after consuming its prey.

We were hopeful that the jaw could be repaired surgically and, therefore, did not euthanize the bird upon arrival. Instead, we provided medication to control shock and pain and focused on maintaining ample hydration so that the bird would be ready for surgery if indeed surgery would be possible.

We transferred the bird to our veterinarians at Niles Animal Hospital the next morning so that they could evaluate the bird for surgery. The agreed that the jaw could be repaired surgically and scheduled the surgery for Wednesday.

The surgery was uneventful. Dr. Wilmes pinned the jaw bone using the smallest pins available. The jaw alignment is good and we don't expect any long-term problems with malocclusion.

The bird returned to Flint Creek Wildlife on Thursday for post-operative care. She is eating well (we are cutting her food into small pieces and hand feeding her). She will complete a course of antibiotics and will need her pins cleaned twice per day. We will take x-rays in two weeks in order to determine how the jaw is healing.

We'll keep you posted.

Dawn

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