Stuck in a tree…

Fire brigade saves bird in tree

Sometimes you get to see stuff that you would never imagine possible, and today I turned up to the surgery clinic to find the entire staff waiting outside. Now it was a beautiful sunny day, however this did not explain the two falconry club members sitting with them with only a single bird but two gloves.

Asking what was going on, the doctor pointed at the tree where in a branch 20ft or so from the ground was a shape moving. Now I’d just set my contact lenses to my eyes so my vision wasn’t great as they had yet to settle however being a tree I assumed it was a cat that had escaped being a vet school and all. This led to great laughter when I was informed none too kindly that it was in fact a bird.

A bird stuck in a tree?

My first question was why it couldn’t just fly down as it obviously flew up there…

And then the fire brigade arrived with flashing blue lights and an aerial platform. My day was made totally and completely. The fire service – “Hasici” in Slovak – had arrived to save a bird from a tree. I really couldn’t make it up if I tried.

So with some quick manoeuvring of the platform to the ground to allow one of the students on (tied into a harness) they raised the platform to the tree to save the bird and in a blink it was all over with the bird safely on the ground the fire brigade left.

Vet student rescues bird from tree with Slovak fire brigade

Apparently there are special jesses (strings for the legs of falcons) that should be used when flying them that had been neglected. Because of this the normal jesses had got tangled into the branch of the tree and so the bird needed to be rescued. So as I learnt something about falconry I guess this counts as part of my veterinary education.

The Slovak fire service were awesome with how fast they responded, how happy they were to help and how much more interesting they made my day.

Moral of the story though, is that flight jesses exist for a reason.

Talking about the brown bear… (Day 525)

Slovakia Brown Bear in Conservation

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wildlife Foods

So today started with a pathophysiology lecture on myopathies which are diseases and disorders of the muscles. Now when thinking about muscles the last thing that pops into most people’s brain is the heart, the intestines, the esophagus or the other systems which rely on muscle to make them work. Whilst very interesting it’s too bigger a field to try to explain in a single post so I will break it down later.

Now onto my next class today it is back to Falconry and Wildlife Rehabilitation, today we spoke a little about the UNESCO application to protect Falconry, looked at the special anatomy of bird wings and the complications this caused with repairing fractures before we got to the wildlife rehabilitation section of the class.

Today was an amazing (at least for me) topic. Brown bears. Now I am coming to realise that my real passion lies with exotics and wildlife as there is just so much that we do not know. Anyways back to the brown bears, now here in Slovakia we are lucky to have some in the wild, and recently a lot of work is being done in conservation of these animals.

Slovakia Brown Bear in Conservation

Now like most wild animals bears have a bad name as being scary and dangerous, personally my opinion is that we the humans are the scary ones that are gradually taking over all the space in the world in our greed. Anyways, in Slovakia there is a not a direct motorway between the two big cities Kosice in the west and Bratislava in the east as between here is bear country. So the zoologists are currently doing research into the paths that animals use for migration, and part of this involves monitoring the bears movements by satellite using gps transmitters.

Sounds simple right? Well first off all you have to capture the bears… Sneaking up on a bear is pretty dangerous, using snare traps is dangerous for random hikers/hunters that come across a caught (and very angry) bear, and so it was decided to use massive iron box traps. Once in the traps the bears are anesthetized with material collected for DNA analysis of the population and fitting of radio tracking collars. Now these collars are pretty special because as well as having GPS devices they have a autodropoff mechanism to break and fall off in 2 years (or on demand).

Lastly today we had our general surgery practical where we were basically shown round the surgical building, told it looks like crap but they are building a new one to open after we leave. And then two people in the group were shown how to gown up for surgery.

Starting Falconry and Wildlife Rehabilitation… (Day 518)

Examination of a wild pine martin in wildlife rehabilitation

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

So today was another early start with pathophysiology at 7:15 which is one of my favourite subjects as it is so logical and actually answers my “why” questions when it comes to pathological processes within the body. At the moment it is the cardiac system that we are studying. Anyways today I want to talk about something slightly more exciting for me as it is a field I am very interested in entering after I graduate.

I started my Falconry and Wildlife Rehabilitation elective today, I am very lucky as the university has one of the best avian vets in the world as chief of the exotics clinical department and he is the one taking this course. The session today started with some theory around the start of falconry and the legislation and laws when it comes to wild animals here in Slovakia along with the difference between population and individual conservation.

Paraphrasing some of the class here quickly without any references or own research apparently falconry started out of need rather than sport. A long time ago in colder countries when food was very scarce in the winter someone noticed that the path of migratory birds was overhead. They then noticed that falcons killed and fed on the smaller birds so managed to trap a falcon. Keeping this bird hungry when the migratory birds flew overhead they released it and so it brought some of these migratory birds to ground allowing the man to eat. From this time falcons became a sought after bird as they allowed the household to eat through the winter, and so became of great value and the techniques for training were further developed.

After this time of need, it then became a hunting sport much later, with strict rules on training and entry into the “hunters guild” at least in Slovakia. We were then taught the post-mortem technique for these birds, and practiced this on several birds that had been found dead recently to look for a cause of death. We then had a wild pine martin in that had been rescued from a garden for a clinical exam to check the health.

Examination of a wild pine martin in wildlife rehabilitation

After this I had my parasitology lecture, followed by a general surgery practical which we spent watching videos of different ways to restrain animals.