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Kaitlyn Porter

Mrs. DeBock
English 4
3 March 2016
Raptor Rehabilitation
The rehabilitation of wild raptors is a complex process that includes veterinary care,
physical recovery and the reconditioning of the injured bird for successful release. Many raptors
often mask clinical signs of illness until disease or an injury causes their death. These birds need
special treatments to help them recover and meet the specific requirements for release. Animal
sanctuaries are rehabilitating raptors with different therapies to restore the birds back to health
and release them back into the wild.
Raptors, also known as birds of prey, include eagles, hawks, vultures, falcons and owls.
Many times these birds are presented to rehabilitation centers as a result of trauma. The most
common causes of trauma are car collisions. Birds of prey use their keen eyesight and sharp
beaks and talons to hunt. Roads offer a clear view for hunting and some do not see oncoming
vehicles (Buchet). Other reasons for injury are collisions with buildings, getting snared in field
nets, drowning, illegal shooting, predation and even high voltage trauma. The birds often fly
straight into them and get tangled. Just like human bones, birds need several weeks for bones to
mend (Jemima). Rescuers are informed and take the injured birds to sanctuaries. When raptors
have injured wings, they are placed in a mew or cage until its bones heal. It is necessary for some
birds to wrapped in slings like a cast. As the wing grows stronger, rescuers help the bird with
flight familiarization. The birds are taken to flight cages so they can gain their flying strength
back. Some raptors have to have their feathers transplanted back on, one by one. This is called

imping (Buchet). If a bird loses its flight feathers, imping is done to help them recover. If a bird
breaks or cracks its beak, it is usually repaired with a glue. The raptor rescuers and rehabilitators
help ease the birds back into the wild.
When wild raptors are admitted to rehabilitation centers, rescuers and rehabilitators go
through a long process to asses the bird for external and internal injuries. Many raptors with
collision related injuries have trauma-induced chronic torticollis (Nevitt, Robinson, Kratz, and
Johnston). For birds with chronic torticollis, it is difficult to diagnose and treat. Rehabilitators
have found new forms of therapy to help these raptors recover. These therapies include soft
tissue therapy, physical therapy consisting of passive range of motion, acupuncture, and laser
therapy. A case study showed that birds who were given these therapies, compared to birds who
did not receive therapy, all recovered fully of physical injuries and all but one recovered for
chronic torticollis but, the one bird still met all requirements for release (Nevitt, Robinson, Kratz,
and Johnston). The birds who did not receive therapy either stayed in the center much longer,
never recovered, or were euthanized. According to the studies of Benjamin Nevitt and associates,
the effectiveness of physical therapy as an adjunctive treatment for trauma-induced chronic
torticollis in raptors had an enormous positive effect for injured birds (Nevitt, Robinson, Kratz,
and Johnston).
Raptors are meant to roam free and soar through the skies, but sometimes they are too
exceedingly injured that they can never be released back into the wild. Fortunate for these birds,
there are many animal sanctuaries that adopt and care for them. These sanctuaries give the
disadvantaged birds a safe environment with food, shelter, and any medical care they need. For
the birds who do meet the release criteria, they are taken out and set free. Many of the released
birds are tagged and documented. The released raptors can all go back to their natural

environment and continue their lives as they did before. Releasing the wild raptors allows for the
replenishment of new raptor offspring (Jemima). If raptors were not released back into the wild
the effect could be catastrophic. According to the Raptor Rehab studies since their prey is
usually small rodents and other smaller animals and the birds were not there to hunt them, the
prey could keep reproducing and there could become an abundance (Buchet).
Animal sanctuaries are rehabilitating raptors with different therapies to restore the birds
back to health and release them back into the wild. These therapies have had a huge impact in
raptor rehabilitation. More birds of prey have recovered and been successfully released than ever
before (Buchet). All data from the raptor rehab case study have shown that the effectiveness of
therapy results in faster and healthier release (Nevitt, Robinson, Kratz, and Johnston).

Works Cited
Benjamin N. Nevitt, Narda Robinson, Gail Kratz and Matthew S. Johnston.
Effectiveness of Physical Therapy as an Adjunctive Treatment for Trauma-induced
Chronic Torticollis in Raptors. HCS Smart Search. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Buchet, Jennifer. Raptor Rehab. HCS Smart Search. Web. 15 Feb. 2016
Jemima Parry-Jones. Eagle and Birds of Prey. Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books.
15 Feb. 2016