About Bird Wings

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Your pet bird's wings require special consideration when choosing a cage and in keeping him from escaping your home. They are also subject to injuries and disease. Before anything happens to your bird's wings, or other body parts, find a good avian veterinarian.

Housing and Wings

When you select a cage for your bird, take his wingspan into consideration. Purchase the largest cage you can afford and comfortably fit in your home. Usually, you want a cage greater in width than height, so that your bird can stretch his wings comfortably. If the cage is too small, the bird may suffer wing trauma, because his wings bang on the cage bars.

Tip

  • For small finches, including canaries, install a perch at each end of the cage, so they can fly between them.

Wing Clipping

Whether you have your bird groomer or avian veterinarian clip your bird's wings depends on whether your pet is ever outside. Wing clipping applies primarily to parrots who accompany their owners on outdoor forays. Never assume your bird will stay perched on your shoulder when outside. Unless his wings are clipped, he may take flight in just seconds and might be gone permanently.

Tip

  • It's not just a question of knowing how to clip the wings that requires the services of a professional. The individual must also know how to restrain the bird correctly. Poor restraint practices can actually kill the bird through accidental suffocation by holding him too tightly.

Blood Feathers

Every year, your bird molts his feathers. As his old feathers fall out, the new ones appear, complete with their own blood supply. These new feathers are referred to as "blood feathers" when they initially come in. At this stage, an injured feather bleed a lot. If this happens, you have three choices:

  • restraining the bird and apply direct pressure to the site
  • putting styptic, or clotting, powder on the site
  • or gently pulling the entire feather out of the wing. This hastens the clotting process.

Warning

  • Since using too much pressure when pulling out the feather can result in wing breakage, only attempt this if your vet has shown you the proper method of feather removal. If your bird loses more than several drops of blood, take him to the vet.

Wing Tumors

Whether benign or malignant, wing tumors are fairly common in pet birds. Parakeets and cockatiels most often develop xanthomas, or yellowish fat tumors. These growths usually appear on the wing tips, near the vent or on the chest. While xanthomas are usually benign, that doesn't mean you can ignore them. If they continue to grow, the tumors interfere with your pet's movements. Since these growths are prone to bleeding, your bird could bleed to death.

Fibrosarcomas, or cancers of the connective tissue, often appear on the wings. Pet birds most vulnerable to developing these tumors include:

  • cockatiels
  • parakeets
  • macaws
  • and various parrot species.

Check your bird's wings regularly for any sign of a mass. If your notice your pet picking on an area of his wing, resulting in lesions, have the vet examine him.

Wing Tumor Treatment

Your vet will surgically remove a xanthoma from your bird's body, with the goal of excising as much of the tumor as possible. A very large xanthoma on the wing may require amputation.

If caught early, removal of a fibrosarcoma tumor near the wing tips, or the entire wing, cures the issue if the cancer has not spread, or metastasized. Once the fibrosarcoma spreads -- usually to the bones, liver or lungs -- there's no realistic treatment to save the bird.

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