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Ask August Abbott, CAS Your Own Question
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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My love bird broke her leg at the knee..I don't know what to

Customer Question

My love bird broke her leg at the knee..I don't know what to do..I tried bandaging it but she keeps pulling of the bandage and the foot is hanging. There is no avian vet where I live..I'm very distraught.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: No there is no open wound
JA: What is the bird's name and age?
Customer: Her name is ***** ***** she is 2 years old
JA: Is there anything else important you think the veterinarian should know about Lucia?
Customer: She is not eating
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 10 months ago.

I'm August Abbott, cert. avian specialist; owner of N.CA Parrot Rescue. Give me just a few minutes to review your question & respond. I'm with you

Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 10 months ago.

I own a rescue/sanctuary with nothing but damaged birds. That is, birds with deformities either congenital or acquired. One of the most common is a bird that has had a break somewhere, often the foot or leg, that has healed without medical intervention. The result can be devastating. I have one magnificent scarlet macaw with no ability to walk whatsoever and a lovie whose leg is now deformed and useless because it was also left untreated. It’s heartbreaking

When a bird stops eating after an injury this is equivalent to a human crying out in pain. Birds don’t cry or moan or broadcast that they are in agony because in nature this tells predators they are easy pickings. What they do is stop eating because the pain is blinding.

Another thing that is happening that you can’t see is potential infection developing at the site of the break. Once an infection takes hold (and it happens relatively quickly) is that it may go blood-borne. I’m afraid this is the reason owners find their bird lifeless 'all of a sudden’ (which isn’t really as 'sudden’ as they think)

The bot***** *****ne is that we can’t set a break without first knowing that it’s actually broken; where the break is and what kind of break. Is it a fracture? A dislocation? Is it in one spot ? The scarlet macaw with both legs broken has multiple fractures and dislocations. Her owner decided it was just one break in one place and refused to find a vet. Now the bird is unable to walk or perch at all. Doomed to a life on the ground and unable to hold nuts or other foods in her feet like other birds. It’s simply awful to see this.

And since I’ve seen so much and I can tell you sincerely ***** ***** bird, I have to beg you to get to a vet. You do not need a 'board cert. avian vet’, although that’s the best option. ANY vet who sees a majority of bird patients will be good.

Call any 'regular’ vet in your town and ask who they refer their bird owner clients to. They should give you multiple names.
Call your local Pet Co and ask for their bird vet list. They are happy to share. If you have a Pet Smart in town, they often have a Banfield clinic inside and yes, they see birds. If they don’t, they have a list to share as well.

You’ll be surprised at how many bird vets you actually have near you

In the meantime, we have to worry about dehydration and malnutrition which can happen awfully fast with birds.

You need a makeshift brooder: use a small box lined with soft clothes like tee shirts.


Use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain, raw white rice. Knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes. Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot. Tuck this in just under the cloths.


A heating pad under the box is also helpful, set on low. This is one of the few times I’d ever use both heat sources if necessary to maintain incubation temp (90-105 degrees).


If ever using an electric source for heating anything in anyway, please be vigilant and constantly double checking carefully.


Gently drape a light cover over this box to further help hold heat in and keep light low.


Attempt to offer sugar water to your patient. Mix a few teaspoons of real sugar (nothing artificial) in about 1/2 c of warm water until dissolved. Try to get your bird to take sips from a spoon or cup. Use an eyedropper if necessary to put a drop of this solution at the side of the beak - some will get into the mouth.

Make some pablum/baby cereal with a bit of natural applesauce to tempt your bird to eat.

The fluids are most important and quick medical intervention a necessity. I truly hope this all turns out well for you both. Please check back and let me know ok?