Topic 8 – Describe an obstacle that you overcame during your internship.
Occasionally at the Bird Center a bird who is accepted is unable to eat on its own. This can happen due to a number of reasons. For example, if a bird experiences a collision, such as with a building or car, it will often become head injured, which can result in swelling of the brain and can cause the bird to lose mobility of certain body parts. Depending on the severity of the collision, the bird can take anywhere from a few hours or months to recover. In most cases this loss of mobility is only temporary, but in serious cases the bird can become permanently paralyzed. As a result these head injured birds need to be force fed.
Birds are force fed using a metal tube called a gavage that is attached to a feeding syringe. The gavage is curved in such a way that allows it to be inserted through the mouth and all the way into the bird’s stomach cavity. However, finding the passageway leading to the stomach is harder than it sounds. The bird needs to be held with one hand with its beak propped open, while the other hand inserts the gavage and searches for the passageway to the stomach. Birds hate this. The only way to get good at it is with lots of practice. Although scary and nearly impossible at first, I’m happy to say that at this point in my internship I am completely comfortable with gavaging.