Your Bird Broke a Bone – Now What?

I hope last week’s post on the Ultimate Bird DIY First Aid Kit will become part of your avian reference library. We’re going to break down the first aid thing into several manageable parts. Before we do here’s a pop quiz: What was the cashier at Walgreens thinking when I bought the Pedialyte, saline, eyewash, plastic gloves & a tube of KY Jelly?


We designed the ultimate bird first aid kit for a broad range of species, so you don’t need everything in your Bird First Aid Kit. As an example, you really need a needle nose pliers to pull out a blood feather from a Blue and Gold Macaw, but only a strong tweezers for a smaller bird like a parakeet.


Everyone likes to think of themselves as being prepared for disaster and certainly life’s cuts and scrapes. I have personally sutured a dog in a garage (after 5 minutes of training by my vet 🙂 I have yanked shards of glass out of more than one dogs paw and got them bandaged over the years.


Sutures are easy to come by if your vet is a fellow musher but for the most part, most dogs, and I presume cat medical emergencies, can be treated with a human first aid kit. Pulling out a little fur left on the dog in the haste to get a wound bandaged, is something a dog will get over pretty quickly.


It’s also important to note that a Bird First Aid Kit is really there to help either stabilize a bird in an emergency or be able to begin the healing process for minor injury. As a rule of thumb, if you think for a second, that your bird needs veterinary care – it does!


By now you’re asking yourself the nagging question. “Do I really need all this stuff, what could possibly happen to my bird?” Well, we thought of that too. Here’s our list of 41 ways we kill or injure our pets birds – additions are welcome.


Let’s start with the basics. Do you have all the necessary phone numbers in an easily accessible area like your refrigerator? You’ll want emergency veterinary numbers and perhaps even directions to the vet clinic. How about the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (A $65 consultation fee may apply). Yep, we’ll be talking about poisons and poison control in the near future.


Next, the first of many reasons that birds are different than cats and dogs when experiencing even the smallest of medical trauma. As an example, let’s say a bird gets it’s leg band caught in a bird cage accessory breaking its tibiotarsal (shin bone). In this scenario, a bird has a higher chance of dying from stress than from the injury itself. This is why you will want to stabilize the bird before tending to the injury. 


Get them restrained with a towel and begin to talk softly and calmly. Orthopedic injuries usually aren’t life-threatening so work on the stabilization of the bird first, something called “re-establishing homeostasis” in veterinary terms.



A note about bird bones

We know that bird bones are hollow, enabling them to fly but what you might not know is these hollow bones are considered “pneumatic” bones that contain air filled canals that aid in the respiratory cycle during flight.


A note about bird skin

A bird’s skin is much more delicate and thinner than mammal skin and far less elastic. The skin is secured firmly to the birds bones, especially in the two highly mechanical areas, the wings & feet.


The top layer of skin, the dermis holds smooth muscles and feather follicles which is how a bird determines the position of its feathers. The tissue beneath the skin, (the subcutis) is made up of fat, striated muscles and connective tissue


A broken bone is usually visible, a fracture sometimes can only be determined with an x-ray. If your bird experiences a broken bone and your Bird First Aid Kit is still in shopping list from you can resort to the Mitch-Guyver method of treating avian orthopedic injuries.


A feather quill, cut from a flight feather can serve as a splint and can be wrapped with masking tape. If you have done you homework and built at least the basic kit, you’ll have some wooden coffee stir sticks for a splint and a roll non adhesive bandagefor wrapping the splint to the leg, stabilizing the bird until veterinary treatment can be had. Avicalm would help in this situation too.


Falconry Feathered Factoid

Falconers “imp” wings to keep the birds feathers in perfect shape when a feather breaks. Imping has been around for several thousand years. Originally done with steel pins and vinegar (causing the steel pins to corrode binding the two halves of the feather repair) but now done with bamboo or the shafts of smaller feathers and of coarse – super glue.


You can see why we’re going to bust this First Aid thing into a bunch of different parts, but we’re hoping you feel the conversation will be worth it.


written by Mitch Rezman

approved by Catherine Tobsing
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Catherine Tobsing   Mitch Rezman


Where to Put a Swing & How to Get a Bird Used to It

Rosella parakeet in bird cage with booda soft rope swing
Recently I visited a customer to deliver an order and was invited to come in and see their new rescued Macaw named Paulie. A beautiful Scarlet in a huge Prevue 3155 cage, the top third was loaded with toys and a large Booda Rope Swing. They said the macaw had not used the swing yet, as he seemed to be intimidated by the movement of it so it hung pristine and lonely. 
I suggested that using a piece of rope or a leather thong to tie the swing to the side of the cage so it would remain stationary and when Paulie touched it, it would not scare him. They liked the idea and planned to do that. It is not uncommon for a captive parrot, possibly never having been on a moving branch, a swing or a bungee to feel unsure about the movement. 

 With so many parrots born in captivity, they know nothing of trees, wobbly branches or vines that are normal to wild birds. Swings in a bird’s cage offer them play time, exercise and helps them retain their balancing skills. Our own Indian Ringneck, Sunshine was also afraid of things that moved and we too had to tie his swings to the cage including other moving items like a bungee until he felt confident on them and then we were able to remove the ties. While I was visiting with Paulie and his owners, I looked at the cage and its furnishings.
Paulie had many toys and even a treat dispenser, but they said he never played with the treat dispenser.  I looked at it and other toys and found they were placed out of reach of his perches. If he wanted to try out his Foraging Wheel he had no way to reach it except to crawl under some toys and hang on the cage bars to get to it.
I recommended that they move it to where he could sit and investigate it, and to also let him see them spin the wheel, get treats and eat them in front of him, perhaps offer him a piece or two as well. I suggested they add more toys and perches lower in his cage, but their concern was that Paulie would poop on them. I explained that careful placement would help keep lower perches clean and to move the toys that were filling the center of the cage top as that may be where he would like to sit but could not due to the crowded placement all at the top in the middle. 
The toys were literally blocking other toys, thus leaving many untouched. After explaining that the toys in their bird’s cage, were the leaves on their birds tree, and would naturally be near the outer walls of his cage with perches and empty areas in the middle so he could maneuver better from toy to toy and play with one without getting bopped with another that was too close. They seemed eager to re-arrange the cage so Paulie could get more out of the cage and the toys. The added perches could be simple bolt-on Manzanita Perches to Booda Rope Perches arranged so he could sit in different places, all with a different toy nearby. 
This is a well appointed cage
California bird cage filled with foraging & interactive bird toys
This would give him more exercise as well climbing and jumping to different perches. An interesting part of the visit was watching as Paulie would climb out of his cage and onto the floor, walk over to a T-shirt that was left on a chair and drag it across the room to a corner behind the sofa and sit with it. I asked if they had the bird sexed, they had not but were told it was a male, I told them I suspected it was a female and was trying to build a nest and they may want to name him/her Pauline or Paulette. This was amusing to the wife as her mother was named Paulette. 
They did admit they had to make covers for all the fronts of any low open areas. I asked how they handled their parrot and they said they kept their hands on his head and neck to avoid over stimulation. This was good to hear as even though sweet parrots do make one want to hold and cuddle and stroke them, they only then encourage the birds to become hormonal and look to build nests, lay eggs, or worse, bond with one of the couple and lash out at anyone else. Their home was large and roomy enough for their family, the macaw, 2 dogs and 3 cats, they said someone was home most of the time and the pets were supervised and they did put the macaw back in its cage if they had to go out.
I suggested they also consider some floor stands in various rooms for Paulie so the bird could join them when they left the main room. Doing this early in the birds time with them so he/she could get used to having places of its own to spend time on and be less interested in climbing on the sofa, chairs, cabinets and thus be removed. A parrot that has its own furniture is more likely to not be as destructive to the house and its furnishings.
written by catherine tobsing
approved by mitch rezman

We Built the Ultimate DIY Bird & Parrot First Aid Kit

ulltimate fist aid kit for birds
Or “are you freakin’ kidding me, it’s for a 117 gram Cockatiel”!
Keep in a cool dry place, not a basement .
Anyone can write a list of what they think should go into a bird first aid kit and post it to the internet so that got us thinking where can you get all this stuff?
We put ourselves at peril by car, motorbike and bicycle navigating “near-the-loop” mayhem of Chicago streets & bike paths.

We did it over 4 days but If you had nothing to do one Saturday afternoon and actually wanted to build this first aid kit all at once you could start out with coffee and order all the medical supplies from us. Then go through your cabinets and drawers (something you’ve been threatening to do for a year anyway) to find things that would be useful in your kit.

Now hop in the family jalopy and go to Walgreen’s – CVS/pharmacy – Target – Starbucks (for more coffee) the Container Store, Menards & Ace Hardware. Your choice of retailers may be different but you get the idea.

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