Raptor Blood Chemistry Study Takes Flight

Teton Raptor Center uses an Abaxis blood chemistry analyzer to diagnose and treat raptor patients. Using a small blood sample from a patient, our team can now measure various blood chemistry metrics such as sodium, albumin, and uric acid. Just like your doctor can use your blood chemistry results to diagnose illnesses, these metrics can be useful for assessing a raptor patient’s health, like dehydration levels, kidney or liver disease, and many other issues. As a newer tool, many of the reference values (i.e., “normal levels”) the team compares their results to are based on small sample sizes from captive birds and reference values aren’t available for some raptor species.

To solve this problem, TRC’s rehabilitation and research departments have teamed up with support from Teton Conservation District. Beginning this spring, the team started collecting and analyzing blood samples on healthy wild raptors tagged during ongoing fieldwork, including Great Gray Owls, Swainson’s Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, American Goshawks, and Golden Eagles. With the requirement that samples be run within an hour of collection, the team often has to get creative in finding a power source for the Abaxis machine – from borrowing power from the local library or a nearby hotel to running the samples in the field with the help of a generator. Without knowing exactly where we’ll end up, the team now refers to this as “Abaxis Bingo!” Stay tuned for results from the project.

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