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 from being sat upon, 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 legs 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 are quite a few challenging problems birds can encounter, not surprising when you think about 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 a Hawaiian vacation. Found him on the side of the road, literally – with a broken wing His broken wing was so mutilated by having been shot 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 are caged 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.
Birds have better vision than humans. Bird’s eyes have 5 types of cones, which allow them to see ultraviolet. Humans have three and lack UV vision.
Editors note: Falcons use one of the extra 2 cones (sacks), yellow, to help increase contrast against a “blue” sky for better identification of fast-flying prey.
Although rare, we’ll encounter a blind bird not to be confused with birds that eat blinds or blind people that care for sighted parrots.
The joke is intentional, it’s just one of those granular issues Google needs to work out.
Editors note: Google has gotten better at conceptually understanding questions using tools like Rankbrain.
- A horse to a farmer is an animal.
- A horse to a carpenter is for materials support.
- A horse to a gymnast is an apparatus to perform on.
Apparently, birds like people can get cataracts.
Some blind birds need ques, like the blind budgie 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.
A Reader Writes
Platforms and flat perches are helpful, we have a whole section for handicapped birds.
written by Mitch Rezman
approved by Catherine Tobsing