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On Aug. 14, California Wildlife Center received a California thrasher from Malibu who was stuck to a glue trap. The well-meaning rescuer had removed the bird from the device, but in the process, the thrasher lost the majority of flight feathers on his right wing and fractured a collar bone. His left wing, tail, and feet were also contaminated by adhesive.
Wildlife technicians stabilized the bird and the following day carefully spot-cleaned him with a solvent, dishwashing liquid, and clean water to rinse.
While he is alert, active and eating well, the thrasher's prognosis is still guarded. It will take at least a month for his feathers to start to regrow. However there could be damage to the follicles, meaning they might never grow back. If all goes well, he will be ready to return to the wild when he is fully feathered and has regained his flight strength in a few months.
California thrashers are a relatively rare patient at CWC. This is the first we have treated in 2020. They live in western California and northwestern Baja California. Thrasher habitat is limited entirely to chaparral, which consists primarily of shrubs and is common in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas.
Eating mostly insects, California thrashers sweep their long curved beak in leaf litter looking for prey. They will also eat fruit when insects are scarce. Thrashers have large territories and are greatly impacted by habitat fragmentation caused by development. This usually results in the birds leaving the area.
Glue traps can cause severe injuries to animals they ensnare by pulling out feathers or fur or causing broken bones as the animal struggles. They are not a humane way to deal with rodents as it may take days for a trapped mouse or rat to perish of starvation or dehydration. The traps also catch unsuspecting wildlife. So far this year, CWC has seen twelve patients with glue trap injuries: eleven birds and one rabbit. Only half survived.
If you find an animal caught on a glue trap, do not attempt to remove it. Animals should also only be washed by professionals, as this is a very stressful procedure, which often requires complete sedation of the patient. Place the animal/trap combo in a box with holes and cover. Do not offer any food or water. Keep the animal in a dark, quiet place such as a bathroom until you reach a licensed wildlife rehabilitator (CWC 310-458-9453).
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The Week in Numbers
Current number of patients in care: 235
New patients this week: 27
California Wildlife Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides medical and rehabilitative care to more than 4,300 sick, injured, and orphaned native California animals every year. Click here to donate.