On January 5, Santa Clara County’s Injured and Orphaned Wildlife Inc. came to International Bird Rescue with a Western Screech Owl that had flown into insulation foam as workers were insulating an attic. With its face coated in hardened foam, its life was in danger.
As soon as the patient arrived at our San Francisco Bay Wildlife Rescue Center he was examined and stabilized. We administered anesthesia and started to carefully remove some of the foam that was smothering large portions of his face and body.
The bird had been attempting to preen off this toxic material, and had ripped a big patch from his chest before he arrived at the Center. Clinic staff removed several chunks of foam from his mouth and we are hopeful that the rest will be cast in a pellet.
The Owl’s nares were very irritated, but his eyes were of primary concern. Both of his corneas had large ulcers, and he had hard foam both inside and outside his left eyelid – imagine a contact lens made of insulation foam!
While the Owl still has bits of foam all over his feathers, the larger, immediately life-threatening ones are gone. Much as with an oiled bird, stress is a serious consideration for survival, and cleaning can only be done safely after the bird has been stabilized.
Injured and Orphaned Wildlife is consulting a vet ophthalmologist with wild bird experience to follow up with the Western Screech Owl’s numerous eye injuries, but we have high hopes for this bird’s survival and were glad to provide him with the specialized care each of our patients deserves.