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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7621
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Hi,I have a question regarding my Green wing macaw. Her

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I have a question regarding my Green wing macaw. Her beak has been peeling, and as of last night, I noticed that right along the peeling, there is a thin line of blood. It's not dripping or anything. But just the fact that I can see it is alarming me. I have made sure that Ruby has had the appropriate cuttlebone/conditioning perches for her beak, however, she won't use them. She uses the top of her cage door. And up until now, I haven't been overly concerned.

Some back history on Ruby:
I acquired her in February from a pet shop owner. Ruby is 30 yrs old, and has lived 90% of her life in a pet shop. She was kept on a seed diet, and I would imagine kept to her cage, either on top or inside. When I got Ruby, I had spoken with an exotic vet and also one of the Just Answer vets to get as much info as I could on how to properly care for her. Not to mention the countless websites, handbooks and dvd's. I don't work, so I spend most of the day talking to her, and taking her around the house. I was able to convert Ruby to a pellet/fruit diet (no veggies as of yet...she still throws those at me when I try to sneak them in). And because she has laid an egg every month since I got her, per my vets instructions, I have started her on a calcium supplement that I put in her water 2 x a week. That just started a week ago though. As for her problem with her beak, she hasn't shown any signs of irritation. She's been eating just fine, has plenty of chew toys that she does use. Her bowel movements have been darker green than normal, but I have noticed that when she lays an egg (which I let her keep till she is done sitting as to prevent her from laying another), that her BM's tend to be a little off. It has been that way since Feb. So I haven't been concerned. She interacts with me like normal...everything seems to be normal except for her beak. The real problem is I am leaving out of town today in a few hours, and the closest Avian specialist is about an hour away. I will have someone house sitting, but I am quite sure they will have an extremely hard time getting her to a vet. I will be back in a week, so I guess what I need to know is, if she will be ok until I get back? I have pictures of her beak if that will help you to evaluate the urgency of her situation.
Thank you for your question and especially for the fantastic detail you provided. It's so much more helpful when clients do that as opposed to believing we should 'already know' things just because we have a certified avian background


Ruby has had a rough life hasn't she? What a big heart you have to rescue her and know that being patient is a lifelong promise to her

As you obviously know, the sloughing off of the top layers of keritan during a 'heavy molting season' is normal. While the traces of blood isn't seen on all birds during this process, it's not very uncommon either.

Chances are that Ruby scraped just a little too hard or too often in order for this to occur

Another thing to be on the look-out for is infections where food slips into the cracked areas and begins growing bacteria


If Ruby will let you, take a child's toothbrush and slide it over the cracks, always going in a downward motion. Going the opposite way would move food deeper into the cracks.

Get a peri-bottle from any drug store and fill it with clean water with a dash of white vinegar (approx. 1 tablespoon to 1/2 - 1 cup of water.

Monitor Ruby carefully to be sure she's eating well, watch her poops to be doubly sure all is well and just ride out this 'broody' season.


Make sure fresh surfaced cuttlefish bone is in the cage near her food dish; also, mineral blocks

Unless specifically prescribed by a physician I would forgo the additives to water. The ONLY thing I ever put in my (all rescued) flock's water is a touch of lemon juice or vinegar if I suspect a yeast infection

Calcium and other 'stuff' just isn't necessary when a bird is on a good diet and well cared for like Ruby. Supplements can do more harm than good in the way of leading to deaths of thousands of birds every year.

There are no truth in advertising laws with pets as there are for humans. They are considered 'replaceable property' - like a broken chair - and the most anyone gets (in general) for loss of life is "replacement value"

So do not trust products from people who have very little to loose while you have a companion you deeply love, at risk

-------- Check out

And keep up the very good work!

Though specialized avian vets are ideal, any vet who sees a majority of birds or at least 1/3 of their practice consisting of birds is a good choice.
If you have a Pet Smart, you have Banfield Clinic inside, open 7 days a week and they see birds.
If you have a Pet Co, they have a list of vet names that they use for themselves and are happy to give you, ask for 'bird vets'.
Ask any vet in town who they'd recommend for bird care. Ask any good breeder in town who they use (if they don't use anyone, they are not a good breeder, stay away from them).

Find an avian vet near you



August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you so much for your help. I'll take Ruby off her supplement then...and will start looking for a new avian vet when I get home!
-- You are welcome! The pellet based diet really precludes having to offer a calcium supplement via water. Feel free to offer cuttlefish bone and mineral blocks - installed near the food/water dishes will make it convenient for her to wipe her beak off on it and thus get some calcium at the same time.

I'll always enjoy helping you out - genuine, qualified owners with hearts as big as yours!

Hi Cherish,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Ruby. How is everything going?

S. August Abbott, CAS
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So far, I think she's doing well. I'm still out of town right now but have been checking up with my house sitter and he says everything seems to be fine. I have been anxious to get home though and to get Ruby into the vet just to have my worries put to rest lol. Thank you for checking up on us!! :-)
-- I just had a Greenwing surrendered to us. Fortunately he's not an abused or neglected bird, it's just that his owner became disabled

Of course this all reminds me of Ruby -- so please don't forget me ok? I'll be relieved when you're home and tell me yourself how she is