Western Tanagers always take my breath away. Their coloring reminds me of an exotic tropical sunrise. When I received a photo of this bird from Ciji, my heart sank. 

The wing was clearly broken, displaced and bleeding. It does not get much worse than that, so when it did not arrive at our clinic on Ridge Road, I assumed that it had died at Arbor Vet Clinic in Lodi, or that Dr. Turner had humanely euthanized it because he had determined that it was too badly injured to heal. 

What a pleasant surprise it was to get this bird in via our fabulous transporter, Ciji. She works at Arbor Vet Clinic in Lodi and lives in our area. Their clinic has generously agreed to take in wildlife, which often comes from as far as Stockton, to get it into our care. This is a great gift because it adds to their already busy operations. We appreciate them so much and each year they help us to save hundreds of little wild lives. 

I was honored when Dr. Turner came out to personally meet me when I made my first visit there to pick up some long forgotten critter. He wanted to thank me for what Tri County Wildlife Care does and to share his passion for wildlife. He showed me countless exotic animals that he had the privilege of doctoring and detailed the work he had done to improve the lives of the animals in his community. His passion for animals shone through and I was so grateful to have such wonderful partners at this clinic. 

Initially this bird did not seem to be eating which was distressing. We could do a better job if our critters could talk and tell us what is wrong, but they can’t. Doctoring animals is like detective work and when we added pain medication, he began to eat. 

When I began doing Wildlife rehabilitation work about 25 years ago, we did not give pain medication because our patients did not appear to be in pain. Wow, were we ever ignorant. We realized that wildlife must hide weakness in order to survive, so began giving pain medications and their survival rate began to rise. 

We waited two weeks to unwrap the wing that Dr. Turner had secured with a figure 8 bandage. We held our breath as we clipped and gently pulled and clipped and pulled to remove the bandage without doing damage to the delicate and tiny bones. 

Birds bones heal in 5-7 days which is miraculously fast. This quick healing allows them to get up off the ground to fly and survive. This can work against them too though, because it means that they must come to us quickly to be doctored successfully. 

We hope to release this beauty in a couple of weeks once he is fully healed, fat and ready to go find a mate. These birds are classified as part of the cardinal family and the bright color tells us that this is a male bird. They primarily eat insects and supplement that with small fruits in the fall and winter. 

Tri County Wildlife Care is a non profit organization founded in 1994 and dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of local injured, ill and orphaned wildlife. We work with residents to live in balance with nature and envision a world where people and wildlife thrive together. For more information or answers to questions, please call 209-283-3245 or visit