Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dude, where's my tail?

This black-capped chickadee is one tail short, due to an unfortunate tussle with a pet Siamese cat. Birds' tail feathers are designed to easily pull from their bodies, so when a predator tries to grab at the bird's backside the tail feathers come out while the bird flies away to safety.

The chickadee also suffered a fracture in his right wing, and -- from the sounds of his gurgled breathing -- some internal trauma. We've wrapped the wing so that the fracture can heal, and put this little fellow on antibiotics to treat the cat bite wounds. Cats have a bacteria in their saliva that is toxic to birds, so it is essential we administer antibiotics. In due time, his tail feathers will grow back, and he'll be as good as new.

In the photo left, you can see the wing feathers crossed behind the bird's back, but no tail feathers peak out from below (as they should). There is vet tape around the bird's body, holding his fractured wing in place.

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