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 that 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.
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.