Both the wing and the leg on this Steller’s jay were so badly mangled by a cat, survival seemed doubtful.
Still, Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS) president Merrilee Prior began it on a course of antibiotics while securely wrapping its wing to prevent further damage and allow the healing process to begin. Topical antibiotics were applied to the countless puncture wounds on its body; it was also given pain medication.
Beginning its recovery in a small kennel, it gradually moved into larger spaces. During three trips to Dr. Barnes at Westview Veterinary Hospital for continued assessment, it was slowly getting stronger, strengthening its wing and leg by actually flying and landing again.
Ten weeks later it was in the largest flight cage in PROWLS’ backyard and flying well, which incurred delighted amazement all round.
It was released near to where it was rescued, by Toba Street and Cariboo Avenue. Off in a flash, it settled briefly in an arbutus tree. Looking all about, it gave a little fluff - a sign of pure pleasure - and was on its way.
Steller’s jays are deep forest birds, but also visit our backyards in winter when food is scarce. Graceful and almost lazy in flight, they fly with long swoops on their broad, rounded wings.
An excellent mimic with a large repertoire, the Steller’s jay can imitate birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens and some mechanical objects. Up close, the bird’s dazzling mix of azure and blue is certainly stellar, but that’s not the correct spelling of its name.