Pet bird owners need to consider the possibility that one day their pet bird could become injured. Despite your best efforts to create a safe environment, in an instant, something may happen that causes your bird to get hurt.
If you had never thought about this happening before the unfortunate event, you may panic and do more harm to your injured pet. It is better to be prepared for this eventuality, and have at least a broad plan of action to call on if required.
Types Of Injuries And Initial First-Aid Treatment
Many injuries incurred by pet birds are, in some way, related to flying. If you allow your bird to fly then there is the possibility of crashes into walls, mirrors, windows and ceiling fans. Additionally, many birds are injured by landing in dangerous places. Such hazards include open toilet bowls, wastebaskets, near other pets, and many locations in your kitchen.
If your bird’s wings are clipped, it can still incur flying related injuries. It may attempt to fly when startled or frightened and not be able to adequately break its fall. This can lead to trauma and injured wings.
Though we may think of an injured bird primarily as one with a broken wing, Dr. Jennifer Prince, DVM, outlines these other common injuries that can afflict your pet bird, and some immediate steps you can take to mitigate the problem.
Broken blood feather
Blood feathers are new feathers that come in as the bird is molting. If these break, they can cause extensive bleeding. This is not life-threatening if addressed quickly. Try to stop the bleeding using styptic powder or flour. If the feather continues to bleed, it needs to be removed. By a trained individual or a vet.
Attacks from other pets
A common source of bird injuries are encounters with other pets such as dogs, cats and larger birds. If your bird has been attacked it should be taken to the vet as soon as you can. Immediate steps to take are to try to stop the bleeding with gauze and pressure. Broken wings heed to be restrained and protected from further injury by being bound loosely to the bird’s body. Always take care not to restrain the bird’s breathing while offering first-aid. Try to remain calm as this will help alleviate excess stress in your pet. See our full guide on how to protect your birds from predators available here.
A bird’s tongue will bleed profusely when it is cut. There is not much you can do with this injury except get your bird to the vet as soon as you can.
Nail-trimming can sometimes lead to a bleeding toenail. This is a common injury, and many vets obtain blood samples by purposely nicking a toe. The bleeding is easily controlled with flour or styptic powder. In the rare case where you cannot stop the bleeding yourself, you may need to have the vet look at the injury.
If your bird accidentally gets burned you need to treat it by running cold water over the affected area. Cold compresses can be used after initial treatment to soothe the area. Infection is possible with more extensive burns, so you will want to bring your bird to the vet if the burn is severe.
Your bird may have escaped outdoors or into an unheated area of your home and become chilled. It needs to be warmed up, but carefully so it is not burned. Some possible ways to accomplish this are by putting your bird under a heat lamp or sitting it next to a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. Caution needs to be taken not to replace the chilling with a burn injury.
Your bird can get poisoned in a variety of ways. Each has its own remedy.
- If your bird has inhaled some toxic gasses as from Teflon or an aerosol spray you need to get it as much fresh air as you can as quickly as possible by moving it outdoors or into a safe are of your home.
- Your bird may have been exposed to toxins through external contact. This might happen if it inadvertently got some bug spray on its feathers. The bird needs to be washed thoroughly to remove all contaminants from its body before it ingests them.
- If your bird has eaten a poisonous substance you need to immediately seek veterinarian assistance. It is helpful if you know what substance and how much was eaten to help your vet begin treatment.
How Should I Transport The Bird To The Vet?
Birds are delicate creatures and when injured are already at a disadvantage. They are possibly in pain and experiencing stress that can lead to shock. You need to get your bird safely to the vet. Birdtricks website offers some tips on accomplishing this task.
- Ready your bird carrier and travel cage – You should always have a travel cage or bird carrier ready in cage of emergency – we have an entire guide dedicated to using these available here.
- Get going – Speed is of the essence as the bird’s health can rapidly deteriorate. Remain calm but move as quickly as you can to get to the vet.
- Broken leg – can be splinted with popsicle stick and gauze. Take care not to cause further damage or restrict breathing.
- Broken wing – Carefully fold the wing into its natural position and wrap it with gauze in a figure 8 pattern. This will avoid further injury to the wind. Don’t wrap it too tight as you can restrict breathing. Here is a video that shows how to bandage the wing:
- Heat sources – Your bird may have problems maintaining its body temperature. You can attempt to combat this issue by trying to keep a sock of microwaved rice or a latex glove filled with warm water next to your bird during transport.
- Warm or cool your car – If time allows, try to get your car’s interior to a comfortable temperature before introducing the injured bird.
What Is An Avian First-Aid Kit?
These are supplies you should have available for use in the event you need to treat an injured bird. The Merck Vet Manual website details a nicely stocked first-aid kit. Some of the items are:
- Phone numbers – Critically important to have your avian vet’s number handy.
- Flour – To control toenail bleeding, put some flour in the bottom of a shoe box and let the bird walk around.
- Styptic powder
- File – for attending to very pointy nails.
- Hemostat or forceps – Assist in removing tangled material from birds legs.
- Cotton swabs and gauze
- Restraining towel
- Heat source
- Carrier to transport your bird.
Alternatively, you can buy ready made first aid kits like the one in the image listed above which you can find here.
What To Do If You Find An Injured Wild Bird?
According to the birdwatching-bliss website, here are some steps to follow if you find a wild bird you suspect has been injured.
- It could be stunned – If the bird’s body appears intact, it may just be stunned or in shock and recover on its own. Move it to a safe, outdoor location, away from potential predators and extreme temperatures. It may just fly away.
- If the bird does not recover on its own, you should keep it in a safe place and contact your local animal rehabilitation organization. Do not feed the bird but it can be offered water.
- Take care when dealing with protected species as there are often laws that make it illegal for an individual to attempt to rehabilitate the bird on its own.
Using Prevention as the First Line of Defense
Many of the injuries that your bird may encounter can be eliminated or at least greatly minimized by proper supervision on the part of their human family members. Try to minimize the chances of your pet bird meeting non-avian pets that share your home.
Make your best attempt at bird-proofing areas where your bird enjoys free flight. Cover all mirrors and windows every time the bird can reach them. Keep your bird out of your kitchen when cooking because this is the source of many accidents. With some care on your part, you will hopefully never need to go into your avian first-aid kit.