Just happened! We admitted a cygnet Trumpeter Swan with severe lead poisoning and starvation. Many thanks to Linda Grenzer and her daughter Candace for taking time away from their Mother’s Day weekend to rescue this very sick youngster.
This swan is very weak but also was fed a full crop of corn by the person that found him. The gentleman was kind and had every good intention, but that meal could well be what ends this swan’s life. We are fighting hard for him against the trifecta of lead poisoning, starvation and now a crop of undigested and fermenting corn in his crop.
We always tell people do not give food or water to wildlife when you capture them. The truth is feeding a starving bird whole food can cause its death. The body is not able to digest or metabolize the meal. It takes a great deal of energy/calories to digest food. If the patient is already in a negative calorie balance, they die trying to either metabolize or vomit. We must go through a process of "re-feeding" the patient, starting with liquid food that take little effort for the patient to absorb and digest. In severe cases patients sometimes don't eat whole food for a week or more after admission. There are lots of good reasons for this not the least of which is if the animal has lead poisoning...and sadly many do, the digestive system shuts down. Whatever food the bird may eat does not digest. It sits in the crop and spoils or ferments. This is a fatal situation unless we physically remove the food from the crop. This is not an easy task for us or for the patient. Many are too weak to undergo the procedure. In mammals you can induce the patient to vomit with medication, that is not true in birds.
We are working very hard on this beautiful young male Trumpeter Swan. Keep us and him in your thoughts please.