Dr. Heather Barron of CROW speaks to Rotary at The Dunes. Rotary photo
Dr. Heather Barron of CROW speaks to Rotary at The Dunes. Rotary photo

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following report from the Rotary Club of Sanibel Captiva meeting at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club recently was submitted by Shirley Jewell of the Rotary Club.

In recognition of the uniqueness of our Islands' non-profit organizations and the wonderful people who have contributed time, talent, and treasures to foster the original concept of a plethora of exceptional, contributory and unique non-profit organizational ideas on Sanibel and Captiva, Rotary invited two outstanding non-profit Island leaders to speak at our recent meetings…Jan. 26 Dr. Heather Barron, Hospital Director of CROW – Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife -celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, 2018 and Feb. 2 Lee Ellen Harder, Executive Director of BIG ARTS -Barrier Island Group for the ARTS, which I’ll write about next week.

Dr. Barron has exceptional academic veterinary credentials and has held noted professional positions here in the states and at the School of Veterinary Medicine in the Cayman Islands, where she was the veterinarian for the Cayman Turtle Farm and Cayman Wildlife Rescue. She is a board certified avian specialist and a licensed wildlife and sea turtle rehabilitator who has over 20 years of experience in practicing and teaching wildlife medicine. She has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific publications in her field.

However, to be recognized by your peers and be invited to speak at the National Avian Veterinarian Conference last year is a strong indicator of the respect she has garnered in her field. NAVC proudly brings some of the veterinary profession’s most exciting thinkers, leaders and visionaries to the NAVC Conference stage. The conference has evolved into an organization that educates, empowers and connects the global veterinary community all year long.

CROW does have something to CROW about …50 years of providing medical treatment and care to wildlife here in Southwest Florida, providing a teaching wildlife hospital environment and bringing in the next generation of veterinarians for study at the amazing state-of-the art CROW facility with an outstanding reputation across our nation and across the world. “CROW saves wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education and conservation medicine.”

CROW collaborates with many institutions exchanging and sharing scientific information toward advancing studies that can lead to preventing the loss and destruction of many species of wildlife and their habitats. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”  Rachel Carson

The “One World, One Health” concept is core to CROW’s mission. Conservation medicine is an emerging, interdisciplinary field that studies the relationship among humans, animal health and environmental conditions. CROW's "One World, One Health" approach to wildlife conservation medicine looks to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through a better understanding of wildlife medicine.

Dr. Barron’s topic was to be “A day in the life of a CROW Veterinarian” but instead of putting it in so many words Heather showed this amazing video focused on CROW’s #1 Poster Child at the Wildlife Hospital – the Brown Pelican. Just looking at this amazing bird with its seemingly unbalanced body frame and large pouch-like beak makes you wonder just how that bird ever flies, but nevertheless it does fly and is able to dive straight down into the water at pretty good clip to fill that ever expanding pouch with water and prey. Just a little more information touched on by Heather and my own research on Brown Pelicans, “Brown Pelicans are one out of the two kinds of pelicans that dive for their food. When they spot their favorite food (fish, amphibians, or crustaceans) not only do they dive for it, but they’ll dive from heights as great as 60 feet in the air, head first, and completely submerge themselves underwater during the hunt. The Brown Pelican rotates to the left when it dives into the water, to protect their esophagus from the impact. Their bills can hold three-times more food than their stomachs can, which is why they must drain unnecessary water before swallowing their prey whole.

Before the video was shown Heather talked on how injured birds should be handled and readied for transport to the hospital – don’t just try and pick them up and certainly don’t pick them up by the beak. Calm them down by placing a towel over their heads, so they can’t see…it will calm them down immediately.

Throughout the video we got to see the vets and CROW interns handling all kinds of procedures to help the pelicans recover from their injuries or ailments…, removal of fishing hooks, de-worming, surgery on broken wings and other body parts, incubating of stomach by reaching down the pouch-yikes, assist in feeding-not so easy -they don’t like dead fish, during the recovery period trying to design a health and well-being plan to decrease stress with toys and familiar type objects to entice them to get back into action, and of course the best outcome…their recovery and release.

CROW is celebrating 50 years strong, all year long. Check out the CROW web-site www.CrowClinic.org for dates and times of events being held on Island and just off at Lakes Park, Fort Myers throughout 2018. There’s something planned for everyone.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets Friday mornings at 7 a.m. for breakfast followed by their 7:30 a.m. meeting at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. Guests are always welcomed.