Cockatiel wing injury

My 16 year old cockatiel injured his wing approximately a month ago when he got startled and flew while on top of his cage (his wings are clipped). The wing was bleeding but we were able to stop the bleeding and all seemed well until two weeks later when I misted him with water and the bleeding started up again (I don't know if the misting dislodged scabs that had formed). I rushed him to an emergency vet that night as I was having a hard time getting the bleeding to stop, and they bandaged the wing.

I followed up with an avian vet the next day who looked at the wing, re-bandaged it, gave him a long acting antibiotic injection and told us to return a week later. When we returned a week later the vet stated that all looked well, to leave the bandage off and he should be fine (just a note, he has a large area of scab along the edge of the wing that overlaps both the front and back edge of the wing).

There was something sticking out of his wing near the tip, that I asked whether or not it was bone and the avian vet told me that it was the shaft of a feather. Upon returning home that night, he was cleaning his wing and started bleeding again. I got the bleeding to stop and rebandaged the wing. I contacted the vet and he said he thought it was just a minor setback and to again take the bandage off. I did so a three days later and he seemed okay for two days, but the following day he had another drop of blood in his cage.

At this point I contacted another avian vet to make an appointment for a second opinion. The appointment was the following day and when this avian vet looked at him she said he had a pretty extensive injury that had an area of what she called "dry gangrene" (the scab on the wing edge). She said that she didn't know what sort of tissue was under the scab, if it was viable or not for healing. She said she could either try to prompt the scab off, or we could wait another week to see if it healed any further and then see how it looked underneath. She said this kind of injury would take quite some time to heal, if it would be able to heal at all, or he may need a partial wing amputation.

Also, I questioned her about the thing protruding from the bottom of the wing and she said it looked like bone to her, which if it was, she'd be able to cut off. She put cream on the wing and rebandaged it and told us to return a week later.

So now he has to go back this week to see where he is in the healing process and we will go from there. He's always been very healthy prior to this, and he's a very active little guy.

How common is a partial wing amputation in a case like this and how do these guys usually do with this kind of procedure? Also, his age being what it is, I don't know if that's a factor that I should consider in not having this done (although I don't really know what other alternative there would be).

Also, I'm wondering how the bone wound up breaking through the skin (it's right at the tip of the wing area) and what exactly is entailed with cutting it, such as, will he need stitches for something like that?

These are of course, all questions that I will be asking during his appointment this week, but I'd just like to get an additional opinion on this matter. I want him to be okay and to be able to have many more happy, healthy years with me.

Thank you.

Comments for Cockatiel wing injury

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Dec 30, 2013
My question
by: Blake

my bird flew into a door and my grandfather unwittingly closed the door on my bird's wing
he bleed for about a half a minute then it stopped. But it hangs a little below it's usual spot and it's feathers a spread as if he is ready to fly. Though he can't he fell to the floor when he tried.
What do you suggest I do?

Editor's note: Please use this Find an Avian Vet link to find an avian vet for your bird.

Feb 28, 2010
Update
by: Anonymous

The little guy has been treated for the past two months to try to get the wing issue healed to no avail. He will be going in for a partial wing amputation this week. Needless to say we are very upset and worried about him being able to survive the surgery given his age and risk of blood loss and anethesia.

Jan 12, 2010
Follow up Appointment
by: Pat

Hi Dr. B & Linda,

Thank you for responding. The little guy had his follow up visit today. The scab still hadn't detached on its own. When the vet was probing the area, the wing started to bleed again from the bottom of the wing where the feathers protrude. The vet got the bleeding to stop & prompted the scab off. The tissue underneath was intact (not just exposed bone & tendon as she was concerned about). It is very inflammed and swollen.

She debrided the area well, as well as the area where the bleeding had started up again, & she rebandanged it, this time with a collagen bandage as well as regular bandaging. This will be a long process to see exactly how this is going to heal. She showed me the scab that she took off & the piece that appeared to be protruding bone thankfully wasn't, it was a very encrusted piece of something that came off with the scab, but definitely not bone.

The vet took a good amount of time to examine & treat him & brought us into the surgical area to show us exactly what was going on, & then explained the course of treatment to see exactly how his wing will fare as the healing process (hopefully) continues.

He is on a 75% pellet diet with the balance being fresh foods & seed, treat mixture. He has always been somewhat more "delicate" than our other little guy (who is now 8). He's the one who is always breaking a blood feather in a night fright & the one whose tail always looks like it's been through the ringer.

I feel very confident & comfortable with the treatment he is getting from this vet. She has a very good reputation. She's not an alarmist, but at the same time seems to be very thorough & conscientious about what she is doing. The first guy we went to seemed to completely blow this off as nothing right from the start. He certainly did NOT take the time to exam him or treat him as she has. I only wish we would have taken him to her to begin with & not wasted the other 2 weeks with the other guy....he might be a bit further along in the healing process if we did, but this was the guy that the emergency vet hospital recommended, & he is also a board certified avian vet, kind of scary when you think of it. I'm just hoping that he's further along on the road to recovery now, and that he recovers enough that he doesn't need the partial amputation. I hope the swelling goes down, it's been swollen for some time now & if it doesn't, I fear that may be cause for consideration of the amputation. The vet also said that we will have to wait & see about how the feathers will fare growing in or if there's also going to be issue with that now as well.

So we're continuing to say our prayers & keep our fingers crossed that he progresses along.

I will keep you updated to let you know how he does. Thank you again for your replies!

Pat

Jan 12, 2010
Cockatiel injured wing
by: The Avian Vet

This sounds like a very serious wound, especially if this is really bone protruding. Did either veterinarian even take an x-ray? It also sounds like this case was mismanaged from the outset. Although I cannot speak to this having not been present at the first exam. But, I fell I would have handled this a little differently from the beginning ? x-rays, anesthesia, and wound debridement just to start.

I can?t say if it needs amputation without seeing it. I do know that it will take weeks for this thing to heal and a couple of bandages will not do it. This sounds like a surgical case even if the wing does not need to be amputated.

You asked: "Also, I questioned her about the thing protruding from the bottom of the wing and she said it looked like bone to her, which if it was, she'd be able to cut off. She put cream on the wing and rebandaged it and told us to return a week later."

I don?t think that simply cutting it off is an option without at least x-raying to see if it is a bone and which bone it is.

You asked: "How common is a partial wing amputation in a case like this and how do these guys usually do with this kind of procedure? Also, his age being what it is, I don't know if that's a factor that I should consider in not having this done."

Birds adjust to amputation and lead normal ? non-flighted lives. But, be sure that is the right treatment before agreeing to do it. His age is a huge factor, and so is his nutritional status and his general health. Does he eat seeds or pellets? If he eats mostly seeds, then he has nutritional deficiencies that should be addressed before anesthesia. It may even be that this was originally caused by poor nutrition. Have either of the veterinarians performed any blood work to asses your bid?s overall health condition? Has he ever been seen by an avian veterinarian before this problem? Bird?s need to be seen annually for well-bird check ups and vaccinations. It is not possible to simply look at a bird and tell if it is healthy. My opinion is that this is a chronic problem and not one that happened suddenly. Lesions that large with such a scab do not happen over night, nor from a single injury. I also believe that the wing clip was a contributing factor to all of this. Has anyone mentioned that this could be a tumor or cancer? That is one of my differentials. This should be looked into as well.

You asked: "Also, I'm wondering how the bone wound up breaking through the skin (it's right at the tip of the wing area) and what exactly is entailed with cutting it, such as, will he need stitches for something like that?"

First you need to have x-rays done to see if it is the bone. If it is, your bird has a very serious problem that has been neglected from the first visit. It could have happened when the wing was broken from the fall. If the bones break that easily, then your bird certainly has some nutritional deficiencies. Stitches, yes, but that is the least of what he needs.

Dr B

Jan 11, 2010
Cockatiel wing injury
by: Linda

Well, this is best left in your Avian Vet's hands, and I'm sorry the first vet just kind of sent you on your way without taking care of this. The one you're going to now sounds like she know what she's doing, so do exactly as she says. If she thinks the bird is too old for the surgery, she'll tell you that. Cockatiels live 35-30 years or more with good care, so your bird is not so old as to not be able to handle a surgery. Partial wing amputation is a serious surgery, so hope you don't have to do that. If you do, your bird will do find once healed. Healing will be a tedious process as will healing without surgery. Skin is thin on the wings, and a compound fracture can occur by hitting something hard or from an animal attack.

I wish I could be of more help, and talk with your new Avian Vet about all the pros and cons. Make sure you have pre-surgery bloodwork done to make sure your bird's organs are in condition for a surgery. You'll need to have the bloodwork done a week or so before surgery is scheduled. If the bird's liver or kidneys are weak for any reason, surgery will not be an option for now.

Let us know what happens and how this goes as we are here to support you in any way that we can. Write anytime as someone is always around to talk with.

Linda

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