Sanderling Gets Caught in a Clam

provided by CROW

Wildlife is abundant on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva. One of the most familiar sights on the beach is the sandpipers scuttling up and down the beach with the waves to pick at the wet sand for their food. There are actually many different species of sandpipers (97 to be exact) which all belong to the family Scolopacidae, including species of curlews, woodcocks, snipes and godwits.

One of the species most commonly found around the world is the sanderling. These tiny birds are found in Southwest Florida year-round, but during breeding season, their numbers dwindle. That’s because these tiny birds migrate to breeding grounds in the high arctic more than 3,000 miles to the north!

This little sanderling (patient #20-4367) admitted to CROW on September 14, found itself in quite a jam. While probing the sand for small marine invertebrates, it stuck its bill in the wrong place and it was clamped down on by a clam.

Luckily, the bird was seen struggling to free itself from the clam and was brought in for help, clam and all. Veterinarians were able to gently remove the clam from the upper bill of the sanderling. The ordeal left the bird with what is called a “greenstick” fracture, where only part of the bone breaks, to the top part of its beak.

The patient needed its bill to be stabilized, but its small size and the location of the fracture made the task difficult. Wildlife rehabilitation is full of dilemmas like this because of the wide variety of different animals that are admitted.

Thankfully, CROW staff are always up to the challenge and found a creative way to solve the problem. Using the needle from a syringe and a bit of super glue to hold it in place, they fashioned a stint to provide the needed stability. After a few days in care, the bird’s beak had healed enough to be released back to the beach.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (9/9-9/15):
There were 95 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 21 eastern gray squirrels, 10 eastern cottontails, two belted kingfishers, two masked boobies, two white ibises, a black racer, a striped mud turtle and a common nighthawk. Recent Releases include four northern raccoons, a prothonotary warbler, a green heron, and a loggerhead sea turtle. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases! Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!  Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road. All Florida residents receive 10% off admission with proof of residency throughout the month of September!

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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