Sunday, July 22, 2012

Parakeet Leg Defect

Foot appears to work normally, but one leg
extends outward at an odd angle.

Our elderly Bourkes Rhett and Cherry's first clutch wasn't highly successful this year. She hatched four of five eggs, but two babies died early on...both with pink eyes. The baby below has something wrong with its leg. I don't believe there was any sort of injury. I suspect it happened in the shell. The leg extends outward instead of in a normal position. Yet, it can be manipulated into a normal position with no apparent distress or pain to the bird.

My husband feels we should remove Rhett and Cherry's nest box and call them retired. Typically, elderly birds quit breeding on their own and these two have gone on longer than expected.

Over the course of several days we made three attempts to pull his leg into a normal position. Every time the contraption came apart or came off. I suspect his mother may have helped remove it.

First attempt to keep leg in a normal position.
We used a strip of bandaid to avoid irritating the skin.

Second attempt with a rigid match stick between and
stronger tape in middle with bandaid tape over ankles.

Third and final attempt. Notice, he's a little older in this
photo than in previous ones. Duct tape over a match stick
with Duct tape over the bandaid tape underneath.
The baby bird never seemed to mind the attention he was being given. I've spent time holding him in my hand with his leg held in a normal position. I think he likes it. Given enough time, simply carrying him around and holding his leg next to his body might begin to allow him to keep it there. Sort of like a person's frozen shoulder, where you have to gradually force it back over time until it's back to normal.

I've never experienced this type of problem before, but Debbie wrote to us about a similar one in 2010. Here is a link to her message with photos of her bird:  Bird Leg Deformity 

Debbie, if you're still out there, please let us know how Scarlet grew up. Did her legs become normal over time?

He can grasp with both feet and if I hold his leg next to
his body, it will stay there. He seems happy and
content in this position.

I didn't expect this bird to leave the nest box on his/her own. I expected to take him out when his younger sibling left the box. However, today he left the nest box on his own and his younger sibling is still in it. The photos below were taken today.

Sitting on a perch one-legged. Flies pretty well too, considering.

Found him sitting in this seed cup. He seemed
comfortable there. Leg is not stretched out quite as far.

This little bird will either be a keeper or one to give away. He/she isn't one to sell, but neither will I put him/her down. Animals are amazing at coping with physical problems.

Peace & Blessings.


Anonymous said...

Almost positive this is splay leg. It wouldn't necessarily be the problem of the parents, but rather the bottom of the nest box. IE- there was nothing to grip, so the leg kept sliding out thus it developed this way - if I recall correctly, anyways.

G. A. Lewis said...

Sounds feasible, but the bottom of the nest box is covered in pine shavings as all the boxes are, and have always been. No slippery places.

This problem came to my attention when the bird was still very small. I'd put him up next to his sibling to keep the leg against his body, but it didn't stay there. Also, it aims upward, not just out. Really strange in appearance.

Zookeeper said...

That's so sad. I heard that cutting a depression into the bottom of the nest box can help prevent splay leg.

G. A. Lewis said...

Budgies do require a depression in their nest box. However, for Bourke parakeets, with an inch or two of pine shavings at the bottom of their box, a depression makes no difference. It's covered up. Bourke hens form a depression in the shavings where they want it.

So do Splendids, although the Splendid hens may dig down to the wood surface, leaving a wall of pine shavings around their eggs and babies. My Bourkes haven't done that. They leave shavings under their eggs and offspring.

Anonymous said...

Are your rosy bourkes for sale? I live in Maine-is there any way to ship live birds without causing them too much stress-especially a baby.

G. A. Lewis said...

Sorry, I don't ship. We're four hours from the Portland, Oregon airport, the only place they can be taken to for shipment, and then it 's a four-hour drive home again. Just not worth the trouble.

I do know someone in Maine, however, who has a pair of Bourkes and gets a few babies each year. Jill's email is:

Here is a YouTube video she put up.

Jill has gorgeous Lutino Bourkes who will be expensive, but also has the brown Normals. Her Lutinos will be hens and her Normals will be males.

If you enter "Lutino" in my search box above, you will see more about Jill's birds.

Peace & Blessings.

Linda said...

Hi! I am your reader with the disabled Rose Bourkie. His leg sticks out in back of him. He can pull it beneath him and kind of lean on it. I have platform perches in his cage for him, and one rigid rope perch which he also enjoys. Your little one will need careful attention to make sure she does not get her toes caught on things. I take my Bourkie in for a toenail trim every 6 weeks or so. He is an absolute delight. I commend you for not culling the little one. With some careful accommodation and attention, a disabled bird can have a great life and bring joy to us as well. Let me know if you'd like photos of the platforms I have, and contact info for the business that creates them.