Usually, the bird’s beak consists up of bones of upper and lower jaws, i.e., Mandible and Maxilla respectively. These are covered by a layer of connective tissues that are very hard due to keratin protein outer covering. There are several blood vessels and nervous systems in the beak that supply the different parts of the beak, and the parrots have a concentration of nerve ending near the tip of their beak, known as the bill tip organ. It makes the brim very sensitive to temperature and pressure changes.
Bird’s beak functions like mammal’s lip and teeth, i.e., they grasp and crush food, and they differ in shape and size from species to species. Birds also use the beak to manipulate objects, explore the surrounding, aid in defense, preen and build nests.
Injured and Broken Beak in Birds – Symptoms, Treatment, and Cure
Well, one of the remarkable facts about the beak is that it never stops growing. The beak bones grow only until the adult beak size is reached. The keratin protein continuously increases in parrots from the base of the beak towards the tip with the rate of one-by-four to one-by-two inches per month. Those birds that use their beaks to grasp food, climb and manipulate objects will naturally wear down the tops and sides of their beaks as they grow, thus eliminating the need for further beak trimming. Injuries to the basal side of the beak nearest to the face may inhibit regrowth.
Causes of Beak Injuries
Those birds that use their beak to help them climb around the bird cages or chew on cage bars or any other hardwood may chip off smaller pieces of the keratin outer-covering on the edges and sides of their beaks. It is normal and generally not a cause for worry as long as the chips to the beak are not too big and as long as the bird continues to eat and act normally.
Such beak injuries are the result of direct trauma. They suffer from beak punctures, crushing injuries, bone fractures, dislocations, burns, and lacerations. These traumas occur due to attacks from other birds and animals and direct force contact with walls or perches.
As a result of injury, the beak will have an abnormal appearance or abnormal shape due to congenital or genetic defects, infection, or cancerous growth. These are some systemic diseases like the liver disease that causes beak to overgrow.
Symptoms of Beak Injury or Abnormal Growth of Beak
Some abnormal beaks are harder to recognize as strange, while others can be easily identified.
Congenital abnormalities are generally apparent, and they most often appear as eight, a malocclusion of the upper and lower beak so that both of them don’t meet adequately when the mouth closes, i.e., a scissor beak where either the upper or lower beak deviates sideways so that both of them slide past each other like a scissor blades. It can be a mandibular prognathism instead of a scissor beak, in which the edge of the upper beak rests inside its lower beak.
All types of dislocated beaks commonly affect the top brim and result from forced hyperextension of the joint joining its maxillary bone to the skull. Birds suffering from maxillary dislocation can close their mouth completely. They usually have difficulty in eating, and it is visibly painful. The upper beak looks shifted upward, and the jaw bone may be fractured.
Birds with soft and discolored beaks are the result of malnutrition. An infected beak, on the other side, may appear discolored, pitted, chipped, grooved, or dry. Fresh injuries are painful, and it may become difficult for the bird to eat, while older wounds that have already started to heal may not affect the bird.
Treatment of Injured and Broken Beak in Birds
A bleeding beak should be treated immediately. For severe bleeding, owners must control bleeding at home before getting their birds to a veterinarian.
The owners should keep powdered clotting agents and a styptic pencil on hand in case of a bleeding beak or bleeding toenails at home. All the minor bleeding will be halted with the application of pressure to the bleeding spot. Furthermore, significant bleeding may require the application of powered clotting agents, typically used on bleeding toenails or a styptic pencil.
To protect the bird from ingesting the clotting agent, these substances are usually smoothly flushed off with clean water once the bleeding has stopped and the clot has formed. Beaks contain many blood vessels and nerves, so that a beak injury may significantly damage a pain in some cases.
Medical Treatment of Injured and Broken Beak in Birds
Whenever an owner notices something different about their bird’s beak, a veterinary appointment should be made to have it checked out. Some of the beak injuries require immediate veterinary attention, while others are less emergent.
Minor beak injuries are easy to treat, while the beak-trauma is not treatable. An avian-savvy veterinarian can decide on a treatment course after physical examination.
Birds with slow-developing beak changes or slow-growing masses on their beak do not need immediate emergencies, but a veterinarian should examine them.
Burns, wounds, and fractures can be easily infected and especially if food gets packed into them. Minor injuries, burns, and laceration may be cleaned with antiseptic, and it can be treated topically or systemically by antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers.
The chances are that keratin covering over the beak will grow back very slowly over weeks to months. The significant defects in keratin may need to be patched with acrylic. Some of the underlying damaged bone will not grow back in an adult bird. However, severe crushing injuries, fractures, and dislocation may need a surgical repair.
Some congenital abnormalities may need surgical repair as well. The suspected beak infections must be biopsied and cultured so that the proper medications can be administered. Beak growth needs to be biopsied, and it should be removed as well.
Beaks having avulsed may be surgically re-attached only if there is still a significant connection between the visor and face. There are some chances when avulsed nibs are not salvageable and must be removed. Birds missing upper or lower beak occasionally can learn to eat on their own over time, but their owners must be ready to hand-feed them for some weeks or maybe months.
Birds missing both beaks, i.e., upper and lower beaks, generally cannot adapt, and they should be humanely euthanized. Beak prosthetics are available as well, and they must be custom-made to fit an individual bird and surgically placed by a veterinarian. These prosthetics commonly fall off and should be replaced as needed.
Injured and Broken Beak in Birds – Home Treatment
Since there are many types of beak injuries and some bird’s beak may be painful and not want to eat. They may be passive, fluffed up, and less vocal than usual. Birds having painful beak injuries should be offered easy-to-eat and soft food like tiny bits of soft vegetables, cooked egg, fruit, or pasta in place of hard foodstuffs like seeds and nuts. Those birds that have faced difficulty eating should be separated from the cage mates so that their food intake can be monitored.
Injured and Broken Beak in Birds – Prevention
While some beak abnormalities like a cancerous growth, congenital disabilities, and infection cannot be prevented, while others by trauma or malnutrition.