First Aid

1. Claw and Beak fractures

Claws and Beak fractures are subjected to fractures for different reasons, for example a violent hit or a hard fall to the ground. Treatment should start with cleaning the site of injury, if there is bleeding hold the point of bleeding till it stops, if it keeps bleeding, put a dressing on and bring the falcon to a veterinary clinic or hospital.

2. Emergency – First Aid

It is an important issue to be properly aware about the principles of first aid so that you can perform it on falcons which may need an urgent intervention to avoid problems during travel and hunting. A first aid kit should always be available. First aid kit should contain, sterile gauze, sterile dressing, cotton balls, non-adhesive dressings, syringes of different sizes ( 1ml, 10ml, 20ml), medical gloves, spirit, antibiotic ointment, antibiotic powder, eye drops (artificial tears and antibiotic) Iodine ointment, sterile saline, antacid, glucose solution (5%, 10%) surgical scissor and forceps, torch, claws cutter, towel, super glue, paper adhesive tape.

3. Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the most common problems among falcons and its severity can be measured by pinching the skin of the legs and feet and monitoring its elasticity and the time taken to return to normal. In mild cases the pinched skin will remain for a few seconds then return to normal. In these cases, fluids should be given either by mouth or by subcutaneous injection using different available solutions like Lectade® and Pedialyte® that are readily available in local pharmacies.

4. Epilepsy and other Neurological Abnormalities

Neurological symptoms may appear like epilepsy, inability to stand and muscular abnormal movements etc. for different reasons. Reasons could be medical or dietary related. Examples may include infections like Newcastle Disease or reasons related to food and nutrition like deficiency in vitamin B1, Calcium, Glucose, being subjected to lead poisoning or by other toxic chemicals used to kill insects or rodents.

When such kinds of symptoms appear, fold the bird in a towel keeping the wings in line with the body, straighten the legs to line with the back leaving the head and neck shown out of the towel for easy breathing and bring the bird as soon as possible to the hospital for investigations and proper treatment.

5. Insect bites

Falcons may be subjected to insect bites (mosquitoes or other flies) mainly in the bare areas where there are no feathers, especially face, feet and legs. You may see swellings and the area of the bite being red in color. Treatment is given by applying ointments to the area like insect bite ointment which contain anti-allergy substance which will reduce the swelling.

6. Food Regurgitation (Vomiting)

Most of the food regurgitation cases are treated by giving fluids; saline to replace the fluid lost because of diarrhea and giving small pieces of food if the falcon gains his appetite, then gradually increase the quantity. Meats that are easily digestible are preferred, example quail. If the symptoms persist the falcon should be brought to a veterinary hospital immediately for further investigation and appropriate course of action. To stop the regurgitation, you can give antiemetic drugs like Metolcopramide 30 minutes before feeding.

7. Bleeding – Wounds, Cuts

Treatment is to apply pressure to site of the wound using sterilized gauze swab or a clean cloth until bleeding stops. Using either medical cotton swab or clean cloth to place on the wound and then wrapping the area with medical bandage or clean cloth.

8. Bone Fracture

Falcons may be subjected to such kind of injuries during training and hunting seasons. Those fractures may be associated with bleeding and wounds, and in such case the following should be followed:

Initially the most important issue is to stop the bleeding by holding the injured site and applying gentle pressure, cleaning and disinfecting the wound by using Iodine solution then applying antibiotic ointment and dressings with surgical gauze or a clean piece of fabric.

The fractured bone should be fixed with two straight pieces of wood rapped with cotton or fabric, put on the sides of the fractured bone and rap all of them with gauze or a clean cloth to restrict movement, do not wrap the bandage tight as this may reduce blood to the area.

9. Mouth and Nostril bleeding

Falcons are subjected to such kinds of bleeding when being hit by a hard object, hitting the ground during training or hunting, talons being too long causing injury to the inside or outside of the nose (when the falcon is using its talons trying to clean its face), as a result the long sharp talons could attach to the opening of the nose or by applying too much pressure using sharp instruments for cleaning (when trying to clean using a water injection) and trying to remove blisters caused by pox. It is advisable in the situations described, to keep the bird in a dark, quiet and warm place, and bring him to a hospital for an x-ray investigation to rule out any bone injury.

10. Fracture and bleeding in feathers

Usually these kinds of injuries happen during the summer season when new feathers (which contain a lot of blood in its stem) are subjected to trauma like being hit by a stick or being held forcefully. In this case you should secure the falcon and reduce its movement to find the injured feather, you can pull it forcefully by hand or use a forceps to pull it out, in case you are not able to pull the feather, put haemostatic powder to help stop the bleeding and bring the bird to a veterinary clinic or hospital.

11. Principles of first aid

Before starting any treatment, it is very important to be fully aware about the nature of the problem at hand. This will depend primarily on the experience of the falconer.

It is very important to secure a quiet, warm (29-32 degrees cent), dark place where you should keep the injured falcon; you can control the heat by using a lamp or an electric blanket in the cage or outside, it is also important to keep the injured falcon alone and not mix it with other birds or falcons. You can control the movement of the injured falcon by wrapping it with a towel, making sure it is not tight.

In case of external bleeding, an attempt should be made to stop it immediately.

Dehydration because of bleeding or diarrhoea should be treated by mixing water and glucose and feeding it to the falcon, this will prove difficult because injured falcons usually lose their appetite. An attempt should be made by enforced tube feeding.

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