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Why has my baby canary's leg changed color?

One adult and two baby canaries perched on a bowl that doubles as a nest.

(Photo: Flickr/godhead22)

Why has my baby canary's leg changed color?

June 11, 2013

Q: My baby canary had a broken leg that has now healed. But he won't stop pecking his toe, to the point where it bled. It has now stopped bleeding, but his leg is completely changing color to a dark shade of pink, and he won't put weight on it. He is a little over 1 month old. What do we do?

A: It sounds as if there is nerve damage. They have tingling and pain if a nerve is damaged in the fracture, and can cause them to peck or damage their own toes.

This is now very serious, and he may well have a bone infection. He is in danger of losing his life; there is a possibility he could lose the leg. However, canaries are very tough and with proper treatment can recover, even with one leg, and thrive. So it is entirely worth it to seek help immediately.

You need to take your bird to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check this site for members of AAV in your area or call your regular vet and see who they recommend; ask if they really have worked with birds a lot. Unfortunately, this list does not rate competency or experience, but is only a starting place; the vets at least take the avian medicine journal and hopefully see a bird or two a year.

If you feel comfortable with it, examine the bird thoroughly, using gentle restraint via washcloth or hand towel: do not restrict the chest or hold around the body. Check the eyes, nostrils, mouth and beak, if possible, having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. Palpate the tummy for pain, fluid, lumps or anything else (eggs, if female or unknown). Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. The feathers should be parted to view the skin, muscles and skeleton below; this can be done using a Q-tip with isopropyl alcohol or KY gel. Look for bruising, lacerations, injured feathers.

Your job is to keep the bird warm, safe, quiet, and confined; and to provide adequate hydration and calories.

Move the bird to a box or carrier with soft towels in the bottom, no perch, and food and water in low bowls that can be reached easily. Put the whole thing on a heating pad on low or medium. Check it frequently, no overheating allowed! Keep the unit partially covered, warm and quiet.

-- Answer from Dr. Pat, a bird veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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