cranes cranes Cranes flock at a lake in Hula Valley. Around 400 species migrate through the valley, and many get hurt along the way. (Photo: Menahem Kahana)

A blood bank ... for birds?

A wildlife hospital is creating the world's first bird blood bank to help birds that sustain injuries during migration.

Have you ever thought it was weird that all of our blood banks just seem to contain human blood? No? Well, some Israeli veterinarians did. That's why Israel's Wildlife Hospital is opening the first-ever blood bank for birds.

Israel is a hotspot for birds, as migrating birds around the world regularly pass through Israel's Hula Valley and other areas of the country. During their annual globetrotting journeys, birds often get injured.

While Israeli doctors try to help them out, the doctors sometimes struggle to get birds the blood they need. Like humans, birds have different blood types. More important, they're all different species. So a blood bank would be really useful.

Cranes in the skyMore than half a billion birds migrate through Israel every year. (Photo: Marcus Frieze/Flickr)

At least, that's what Israeli veterinarian Dr. Elad Smit thought – he's the man who came up with the idea to create a blood bank specifically for our feathery friends. He suggested it to the other staff and got the idea up and running as a collaboration between the Wildlife Hospital and the country's Ramat Gan Safari. Such kindness for our winged cousins is perhaps not all that surprising in a country where a girl devoted her house to saving injured bats.

The bank already has 16 blood samples and has helped out a common buzzard. The doctors gave her a blood transfusion, helped her recover and then released her back into the wild.

"We know we still have a long road ahead, but this is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of wild birds," said Dr. Yigal Horowitz, the director of Israel's Wildlife Hospital. "We're proud to be the first hospital in the world with such a blood bank."

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