There are items that we have mentioned over the years that you must not be without as a bird owner. Among them are the gram scale, the first aid kit and enough carriers to move all of your birds in an emergency.
Here are a 2 other things that you should not be without:
Cornstarch, also known as corn flour, is the powdery product of ground corn kernels. It is commonly used as a thickening agent in the kitchen. However, it also has value in the medicine cabinet if you are a bird owner.
Birds have accidents just like people do and sometimes these accidents result in bleeding. When we injure ourselves, we rely on bandages and stitches to patch ourselves up. A broken blood feather is quandary for a human and we are not intuitively prepared to handle it.
A blood feather is a new feather that is still in the process of growth. Just like every other body part, it requires nutrients in order to be healthy and the blood supply provides those nutrients.
The reason a broken blood feather is a problem is because it is attached to a “live” blood supply – this means it is connected to circulating blood that will continue to feed into the shaft of the normally closed-ended feather. When the shaft is broken, blood will seep from the hole without restriction and a bird can bleed out in this manner.
There are two options:
1) You can disconnect the feather from the blood supply by removing it, or
2) You can plug up the hole at the end of the broken feather.
Since most people are not comfortable pulling out their bird’s feathers, most opt for number 2 until they can get to the vet (the feather still needs to be removed as plugging up the end is only a temporary solution).
Cornstarch is not the only thing you can use to stop bleeding feathers and nails. I have used regular flour and I have also scraped a bleeding nail over a bar of soap in a pinch. Styptic powder is the best choice as a coagulant, but it is not something that everyone keeps in their house. It also CAN’T be used on skin wounds as it burns and can complicate healing.
I call cornstarch out as being an important item for bird owners to always have on hand because it can be safely used on ANY bleeding injury.
And it also helps you thicken sauces when cooking.
This self-adhering bandage wrap is a treasure. Not only does it have immeasurable value in emergency care for splinting legs or securing broken wings for the trip to the vet, but it also has many practical, every day uses.
It can be wrapped around slippery PVC or hardwood perches to add traction. If you have a bird that is avoids certain large perches, such as those on many play stands that try to provide multiple diameters to suit both larger and smaller birds, this might be your solution. It is difficult for a smaller bird to feel stable on a slippery perch when it is too large for its feet to grip (including your gram scale perch).
If you have a bird with a foot injury, pressure sores, arthritis or any kind of physical disability the cushioning that vet wrap provides will be a huge benefit and most appreciated by your bird.
Both cornstarch and vet wrap are very inexpensive. The supermarket will carry cornstarch in the baking aisle and it is probable that your vet can sell you a roll of vet wrap. It is also available from many online sources – HERE IS ONE. You will be grateful, as I have been, when an emergency arises and you are prepared.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.