Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society nurtures yellow-shafted northern flicker

Yellow-shafted northern flicker

Hauled off her perch in a tree and attacked by a cat in the middle of the night, this yellow-shafted northern flicker, an uncommon visitor to the coast, was lucky to survive.

The residents heard her screaming and brought her inside for the night, phoning Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS) the next morning. This bird was badly injured: her breast was torn open, and there was a puncture through the chest wall into the lung.

Dr. Barnes at Westview Veterinary Clinic held out no hope but PROWLS president Merrilee Prior insisted on trying, giving her antibiotics every day, applying healing creams and figuring out a way to make a breastplate.

The wound stabilized, the puncture closed up and the bird was eating with enthusiasm. However, after a few weeks, the wound was just too large to form new tissue.

Dr. Barnes was still not hopeful. Merrilee phoned Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta and learned of a dressing used on humans for serious wound-like burns. She tracked some down and after two days new tissue began to grow; healing was suddenly rapid and permanent. But, now feeling better, the northern flicker began to pull off the new bandage.

Flickers belong to the woodpecker family and they are a restless bunch. Now blasting the few feet from one end of the cage to the other and hitting the screen at the ends really hard, she opened her wound again. Wrapped again and moved to the front porch, she has almost completed her recovery.

With a large piece of bark now hanging up near the ceiling upon which she pounds enthusiastically, she is looking once again pleased and ready to go.