Raven Flies Free Again After Life-Changing Feather Transplant
A raven who just five months ago was found stranded and unable to fly is once again enjoying life back in the wild - all thanks to a life-changing procedure to restore her flight.
A crowd of around a hundred people gathered in Richmond, Va. to watch as the raven's rescuers from the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WVC) bid farewell to a patient who they had grown to love and dedicated so much to saving.
And what a long journey it was - but not as long as it might have been.
After being rescued last spring, WCV veterinarians discovered why the raven was unable to fly. Tests showed that she was suffering from skin problems caused by mites, and as a result she'd lost many of her feathers, including those on her wings necessary to facilitate flight.
The raven responded well to treatment and her skin condition soon cleared, but the absence of her flight feathers meant returning to the wild wasn't an immediate option. Center staff had considered keeping her for the many months it would take for the feathers to grow back, but to avoid having the bird endure the stresses of captivity for so long, they opted for another option - a feather transplant.
The procedure, called imping, involves carefully splicing new feathers into the broken feather shafts on the raven's wings. This operation is quite rare, WCV told The Dodo, but in this case it was deemed the fastest way for the bird to return to life as normal.
Fortunately, the transplant turned out to be a success. Over the next month, the raven who had so long been grounded regained strength in her wings, and was soon able to achieve flight again. On Wednesday, with the bird's recovery complete, she was finally allowed to fly free.