We get help desk tickets and phone calls on a regular basis seeking advice for a handicapped bird. The most common disability is splayed foot (especially in budgies).
Splayed foot is when one or both of the bird’s feet turn sideways as a chick. This usually happens to young birds when nesting material is “slippery” so the feet don’t have enough traction to point in the right direction while still in the nest.
The best course is to take preventative measures like providing enough nesting material. If encountered, this issue may be corrected if caught at an early age through “hobbling” and can be done with a piece of sponge.
If the problem isn’t caught early on and the birds grow into adults with splayed feet, there are many things you can do for them. Lots of products are available that will help birds with splayed leg maintain a “normal” life.
Splayed leg is not just found in small birds. Watch the video (above) with the (female) Eclectus maneuvering the top of her cage. If splayed leg wasn’t enough of a challenge, check out another video below of the African Grey Parrot bathing with no feet
That blog post got me thinking about other bird handicaps and how bird owners cope. There’s quite a few challenging problems birds can encounter, not surprising when you think abut how fragile they are. They don’t weigh much. Their joints are thin and their bodies don’t have a lot of blood. Some people are natural caregivers and will take our winged companions under their own wings.
But accidents happen. In one of the videos below, a Cockatoo broke the tip of his (top) beak while cracking a walnut leaving some painful nerves exposed. In cases like this immediate veterinary help needs to be sought not only because of the pain your bird may be in but blood loss can be lethal in a bird quickly.
We know of birds who’ve lost their entire top beak and had them replaced with realistic-looking maxilla from medical-grade, bio-acceptable acrylic (an artificial beak). Working beaks are critical for climbing, preening and defense.
If a prosthesis is not an option financially, we know of birds that have lost their top mandible (beak) and they end up eating by scooping pellets with their lower beak and using their tongue to climb.
As advanced as science is, we haven’t heard of a prosthetic wing. We have one customer that rescued a Scarlet Macaw from an Hawaiian vacation. Found him on the side of the road, literally – with a broken wing His broken wing was so mutilated it was amputated by one of the best avian vets in the county, Dr.Sakas, right here in Niles Illinois. Given a clean bill of health he now lives comfortably in a huge Michigan Avenue Bird Cage from Prevue Pet. I think the biggest challenge a one winged bird has is balance. It’s best to keep them in a confined enclosure with familiar surroundings that don’t challenge their mobility
I know it’s hard to imagine a bird with one wing, but the irony is, most exotic birds today arecaged birds, who rarely if ever fly. Many bird owners choose to keep their bird’s wings clipped, so life without a wing isn’t a stretch. It also really drives home the points of how much birds rely on their beaks and feet. Check out the video below of the one winged popcorn eating Cockatiel.
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Birds have better vision than humans. Bird’s eyes have 4 types of cones, which allow them to see ultra violet – humans have three and lack UV vision. Although rare, we’ll encounter a blind bird not to be confused with birds that eat blinds. (The joke isn’t intentional, it’s just one of those granular issues Google needs to work out). Apparently, birds like people can get cataracts. Some blind birds need ques, like the blind Cockatoo in the video below. Others much like people, maneuver from memory.
However you choose to take in or keep a handicapped bird into your life -thank you.
If you have some thoughts or questions on this subject, please comment below
Until next time
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing