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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29770
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My cockatiel has developed a black toe which he keeps

Customer Question

Customer: Hi i'm Rob, my cockatiel has developed a black toe which he keeps chewing
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: his toe is black, won't sit on his purch would prefer to sit in food bowl, his crown feathers are thin, seems ok other than his toe
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Rob, I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. When a toe turns black it's dying due to avascular necrosis (dry gangrene). It may fall off by itself but because your cockatiel is chewing at it it's likely to be painful and so an avian vet (please see here: should consider amputating it. An injury to the toe and interuption of the blood supply to it is responsible for the necrosis. Your cockatiel doesn't feel well if he's sitting in his food bowl - in which he feels more secure. Until he's attended to I recommend that you heat up his environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to sleep) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting around his cage. Make sure that he's receiving adequate nutrition. Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has his diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of his diet. Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: or here: should be fed as well as hard boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.