“Feisty” – the Spotted Eagle Owl

This magnificent spotted eagle owl, brought into the centre last year, was found on the ground weak and unable to fly. Upon assessment, she had a severe case of trichomoniasis and was riddled with maggots. She was emaciated, weak and severely dehydrated. As her treatment progressed, she became affectionately known as “Feisty”. Her fighting spirit along with her quirky personality earned her that name. Week by week the transformation was incredible; she improved dramatically – the trich was gone, her appetite returned and her willingness to be free again was very apparent. After almost three months of our special FFW TLC, she was set free on 18 July 2023! Feisty stole the hearts of many at Free Wildlife and while we miss her, we were ecstatic to see her go – healthy, strong and free!

But what is trichomoniasis and how did she get it?

Trichomonas gallinae is a parasitic protozoan that affects birds, particularly pigeons and doves. It causes a disease called trichomoniasis, also known as “canker.” Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) primarily affects the upper digestive tract of birds, including the throat, mouth, oesophagus, and crop (as can be seen in the first two pictures). Infected birds may exhibit symptoms like regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, drooling, and lethargy. In severe cases, they may develop yellowish cheesy or caseous material in their mouths. Trich can be transmitted between birds through direct contact with infected fellow birds or by consuming contaminated food or water. Owls (like Feisty) and other raptors eat these infected birds and in turn become infected.

To prevent and manage trichomoniasis, it is important to maintain good hygiene in bird feeders and water sources, so be sure to clean out bird baths, water bowls, food bowls etc.

Photo credit: Shane Wilken Photography



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