A great blue heron, who clinicians named Fred, was successfully released near Saskatoon. Photo by Dr. Miranda Sadar.

Great blue heron heals at WCVM

When a large bird fell from the sky in front of a woman walking in downtown Saskatoon, the quick thinking citizen brought it directly to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

The bird, dubbed "Fred" by clinicians at the WCVM's Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC), was a juvenile great blue heron that likely hatched earlier this spring.

Fred was emaciated and in poor condition when he arrived, says Dr. Miranda Sadar, assistant professor of zoological, exotic and wildlife medicine at the WCVM.

The clinicians performed X-rays and blood tests on the bird, and they also gave him antibiotics for a minor infection. Then the wildlife team began to rehabilitate Fred, slowly increasing the amount of food the bird was given each day.

After three weeks, they decided the heron should be released in time to migrate south for the winter.

The wildlife team took Fred to a spot outside the city on Oct. 21 and successfully released him near the South Saskatchewan River.

"He flew off beautifully," says Sadar.

The hospital receives several wild herons each year, but not all of them recover. The clinicians believe Fred's young age contributed to the successful recovery.
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