A Closer Look at Beak Problems
Those of us fortunate enough to own one or more feathered friends will understand that it is always a good idea to have at least a basic knowledge of common bird ailments. Forewarned is forearmed, or so they say, and this is especially true when it comes to your bird’s beak. Birds use their beaks for numerous things, so anything could go wrong with it at virtually any time.
There are a surprising number of bird beak problems which occur fairly commonly across the globe. One of the most common is probably that of trauma. Pet birds can easily break or injure their beaks by engaging in activities such as fighting with other birds, chewing on electric cords, flying into windows or fans or trapping their beak between cage bars. They can even hurt them by falling accidentally onto a hard floor. As a result, the beak can be punctured, fractured or partially or completely torn off the face. If anything like this happens to your bird, it would be best to rush it to the vet immediately.
Another thing to look out for is infectious disease. There are a number of viral, parasitic, bacterial and fungal pathogens that can affect the bird’s beak directly or indirectly. Examples of this are psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), avian pox and scaly leg and face mites. None of them are pretty, but many of them are easily treatable with antibiotics and antifungal treatments.
Then there are those bird beak problems that occur at a much slower rate and may not be noticed until they are already quite well-developed. Some baby birds develop beak abnormalities early on, where their upper or lower beaks grow longer than they should. This is not great for the bird but can be fixed with dental appliances which are similar in application to human braces. Nutritional deficiencies can also cause beak problems, with scaly beaks or overgrown beaks being caused by inappropriate nutrition. Sometimes a bird’s beak can become soft or rubbery. It may take a while to notice these things, but once it has been spotted the bird should be put on a more appropriate diet so that it can recover.
One of the more serious bird beak problems to watch out for is that of cancer. Birds can develop squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma on their beaks which can manifest as an erosion or a discolored mass on the beak. If it is caught early enough it can usually be surgically removed. If you notice anything abnormal about your bird’s beak, the best thing to do is usually to contact the vet as soon as possible. Don’t waste time as you may miss a critical window period that could make all the difference.