Category Archives: Birds

A Bird with Three Names

Wild baby jays have it rough. After a short 10 weeks of being fed in the nest, they are down on the ground trying to earn a living. You may have seen some of these fledglings yourself. Fully feathered, but with a short tail and wings, they are able to walk, hop and flap, but cannot yet fly. Mom and Dad still come by and feed them for a while, but otherwise survival is left up to them.

The numbers are not stacked in their favor. Depending on the bird species in question and the specific habitat, their chances of surviving to their first hatchday are generally in the 11-30% range. The biggest obstacles they have to contend with are 1) predation, and 2) starvation. If there are cats around, feral or no, their chances of survival are much worse.

a scrub jay named Lucky CatFud Bluebell

a scrub jay named Lucky CatFud Bluebell

The Bird with Three Names was a baby scrub jay found by my friend Jenna in her yard. He was standing immobile in a corner with cats all around, so Jenna brought him inside. Jenna’s daughter Makenna loved the little bird and named him Lucky. And then Jenna brought the bird to me.

One thing you may not know about people in the veterinary field is that we are a superstitious lot. We are particularly wary of saying something good, for fear it will soon be proved wrong. If I am ever foolish enough to say something like “wow, we really aren’t busy!”, or “wow, the clients are being so nice!” the vet techs all groan in protest. Surely now the gates of hell will open up, and chaos and discord be unleashed!

So, you can imagine how we feel about the name Lucky. This name is pretty much the kiss of death. Any animal with the misfortune to be named Lucky will surely have a panoply of terrible things happen to it, each worse than the last. As far as we are concerned, you might as well have named your pet “I Hope you Suffer and Die Horribly”.

CatFudI knew, therefore, as soon as I met Lucky that I had to change his name. In a vain attempt to remedy the damage, I quickly named him CatFud. My son Micah, however, was having none of it, and thought CatFud was not a nice name at all for a baby bird. So shortly after being named CatFud our feathery protagonist was re-christened Bluebell.

Lucky CatFud Bluebell was a very adorable baby bird but Not Quite Right. While he was bright and alert, he wouldn’t gape for food like hungry jay babies do. Even after a few days of fluids and antibiotics he didn’t want to feed himself or be fed. He was interactive and curious, and the tests I ran came up normal, but the fact remained that he wasn’t thriving the way he should have.

Sasha and Lucky CatFud Bluebell

Sasha and Lucky CatFud Bluebell

Poor Lucky CatFud Bluebell passed away quietly and unexpectedly the night after this picture was taken. Perhaps he had a disease we couldn’t identify, or a birth defect we couldn’t fix. Perhaps Mother Nature had written him down on the deficit side of her balance sheet before we even met him. All I know is that we are sad he is gone.

Rest in peace, Bird with Three Names. We will miss you.

Many parrots come to their owners with bands on their legs. Leg bands can be useful as a form of identification should the bird become lost. However, leg bands can also cause harm to the bird if they become too tight or become caught on something.

Generally speaking, closed leg bands (those that are a continuous metal circle) are safer than open leg bands (those that are a C-shaped piece of metal tightened into a circle). However, I recently had a case where a closed leg band created a big problem.

Fizziwick the Umbrella Cockatoo came to see me last week. He had recently been given to a new owner, and the new owner noticed that he wasn’t using one leg. When I examined thTarsometatarsal Fracture From Bandat leg, I saw that a thick scab had formed under the leg band. The width of the scab made the band much too tight, and the band had cut into his leg. After we removed the band we took an x-ray. Can you see the fractured bone in the circled area? You can actually see where the band was and how it pushed its way into the bone.

Umbrella Cockatoo with Splint

Fizziwick is feeling much better now that the painful band has been removed. His broken leg has been splinted, and he is ready to go back to his new home.

If your pet birds are wearing leg bands, make sure that you monitor them carefully. I generally recommend removing open leg bands, as they are more dangerous. Closed leg bands can be left on with careful supervision, or can be removed and replaced with an identifying microchip in larger birds.

Silkie Chickens

LennyTheSilkieFUN FACTS: Silkie chickens are an ancient Chinese breed of chicken. They have fluffy feathers, blue ear lobes, black skin, and an extra toe on each foot. Silkies are calm and gentle birds, and make great pets. This is Lenny, a silkie that visited us today. Check out her blue beak!

Bumblefoot in Chickens

GoldLacedWyandottePododermatitis in a ChickenChickens, especially heavy-bodied ones, are prone to developing foot infections called “bumblefoot” or pododermatitis. Bumblefoot can occur when birds stand all day on hard surfaces under less-than-clean circumstances.

Meet Goldie. She is a lovely Gold-Laced Wyandotte who has developed a limp. When we looked at the bottom of her feet we found thick scabs on both sides. Underneath the scabs were infected plugs of thick pus.

Wyandottes are heavy chickens are therefore prone to bumblefoot. Goldie also had been roosting on round perches much too small for her feet, which added to the problem.

Bumblefoot can usually be cured, but the process can take a while. In Goldie’s case, it required 6 weeks of antibiotics, foot surgery, and changing the perches in her henhouse. She has now recovered fully, and is a healthy and happy chicken with beautiful feet!