Raptor center vet repairs wing of rare falcon

HUNTERSVILLE – Carolina Raptor Center has rescued and continues to care for an injured peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the world.

The peregrine was found in York County, S.C. and brought to the raptor center by a transport volunteer. Although not currently on the Federally Endangered list, the peregrine falcon remains on the North Carolina list of endangered species as the population is not strong enough to warrant delisting yet. Carolina Raptor Center has seen four Peregrines in the past two and a half years.

“Having survived the first few days, the falcon is bright, alert and responsive now,” Dave Scott, the center’s veterinarian, said in a news release. “This is a charismatic species that is not often found in our region. Her broken wing will be repaired using new innovative material to actually stimulate bone growth,”

The peregrine falcon was admitted to the Carolina Raptor Center hospital with a fracture in the wing near the wrist. The falcon’s wound was open and contaminated and it was severely emaciated and weighed just 581 grams. Upon arrival to CRC, the falcon’s Keel score was 1.5, which is measured on a 1-5 scale indicating the health of the animal by examining the muscle mass over the breastbone. A healthy animal in the wild has about a 3-4 Keel score.

Taking food on its second day at the center, the falcon continues to eat well and now weighs 746 grams. Surgery to clean the wound has been performed five times already.

Scott is using a new bone implant material called TR-Matrix to stimulate bone growth. This physiologically active material actually stimulates the production of bone and provides a bio-scaffold over which new bone can be formed.  It is a relatively new product but it has been used with great success in many previous raptor center patients.

Wing fractures are a very common injury in birds of prey. Many fractures can be treated and stabilized with a simple bandage or splint but others require extensive orthopedic surgery utilizing stainless steel implants and/or the use of bio-engineered implant materials like TR-Matrix. In general, fractures heal at a remarkable rate in birds and a typical uncomplicated fracture will be healed in 6 weeks.

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