Basic techniques

image of Basic techniques
Online Access: £ 25.00 + VAT
BSAVA Library Pass Buy a pass


This chapter provides comprehensive guidance on the basic techniques veterinary practitioners will routinely employ in avian practice. The chapter covers techniques for various injection methods, oral medication, nasal flush, nail trimming, beak trimming, various feather techniques, ring removal, microchip placement and euthanasia. : Euthanasia of birds. The chapter also includes 15 video clips.

Preview this chapter:
Loading full text...

Full text loading...



Image of 15.1
15.1 Intramuscular injection. The feathers are wiped away with alcohol, exposing the sternal apterium or featherless tract of the skin (white arrow). Injection into the cranial portion of the muscle (red arrow) should be avoided to prevent inadvertent injection into the pectoral vasculature, located in this region. The correct place for injection is marked with the yellow arrow. The smallest available needle size, especially for smaller birds, should be used for intramuscular injection. The needle should be inserted into the muscle at a shallow angle.
Image of 15.2
15.2 Subcutaneous injection. View of the precrural fold of a lovebird. Note the available ‘space’ under this fold for large volumes of fluid. The precrural fold, after the injection of subcutaneous fluids, is arrowed.
Image of 15.3
15.3 Intravenous catheterization. Intravenous catheter, connected to an infusion pump, in the metatarsal vein of a vulture. Intravenous catheter placed in the digital vein of a Harris’ Hawk using a 24 G over-the-needle catheter.
Image of 15.4
15.4 Intraosseous approach to the femur of a falcon chick using a butterfly needle. In young chicks whose bone air sacs are not yet developed, the femur can be used for intraosseous catheterization. Blood transfusion in a Jardine’s Parrot chick using the femoral intraosseous approach. All the substances that can be injected intravenously can be injected intraosseously, including blood. Note the small syringe used for intraosseous injections.
Image of 15.5
15.5 Intraosseous catheter placement. View of the dorsal condyle of the ulna near the wrist joint. The catheter is carefully driven into the medullary canal using firm pressure and a slight twisting motion. A small protection cup may be fashioned using a cut piece of a syringe. Radiographs should be taken if there is doubt about the correct positioning of the catheter. Use of a 25 G needle as an intraosseous catheter in a Budgerigar; bandage not yet applied in this image.
Image of 15.6
15.6 Crop gavaging. Commercial metal crop tubes are recommended, but in raptors and psittacine chicks, plastic or silicone tubes may be used. Proper lubrication of the tube is essential. The neck is extended and the tube is passed lateral and dorsal to the trachea. The tube should be palpated within the crop. The oesophagus may be closed around the tube using two fingers.
Image of 15.7
15.7 Placement of an oesophagostomy tube in an anaesthetized Hyacinth Macaw. The skin is tented with curved haemostats through the oesophagus. A stab incision is made and penetrated with the tips of the haemostats. The tube is manipulated past the crop and into the distal oesophagus. The tube is inserted until the mark created when measuring the tube is at the level of the incision. The tube is secured in place. Radiography confirms correct placement of the tube.
Image of 15.8
15.8 Overgrown nails and talons are frequently found in captive birds. This condition is usually caused by insufficient wear associated with small perches.
Image of 15.9
15.9 Small nail trimmers or small wire cutters can be used for nail trimming. Note that the nail is being cut side to side. A grinding tool being used to reshape the talon of a Harris’ Hawk.
Image of 15.10
15.10 As a rule of thumb, the nail should be cut to the length where an imaginary tangent line from the ventral surface of the digit transects the nail (red line).
Image of 15.11
15.11 A modeller’s grinding tool being used to reshape the overgrown beak of a Sun Conure.
Image of 15.12
15.12 Deformed beak of a 4-year-old lovebird after repeated traumatic cage bar chewing. Use of the grinding tool with a small sandstone for reshaping the beak. Final result after beak reshaping.
Image of 15.14
15.14 Heavy-bodied type wing trim. Primary feathers 6–10 (6 in this case) have been removed from each wing. Note that no cut ends protrude beyond the covert feathers. Compare with a normal wing.
Image of 15.15
15.15 A variation of the bilateral wing trim is to leave the two outermost primary feathers and remove primary feathers 3–10.
Image of 15.16
15.16 Wire cutters or small pliers should be used for wing trimming in order to cut the calamus sharply, to avoid splitting the feather.
Image of 15.17
15.17 Imping technique. A rod (in this case a 0.6 mm steel pin) is glued into the replacement feather. The ends of the feathers have been trimmed and smoothed to fit together closely. A small amount of epoxy resin is placed into the remnant calamus, and then the replacement feather with the rod attached is advanced into the calamus. A piece of paper is used to protect the other feathers from inadvertent glue leakage. Sodium bicarbonate powder is sprinkled over the imping to absorb the rest of the glue. A small nail file may be used to smooth the surface of the repaired feather. Radiograph of a Goshawk showing the needles used for imping feathers. The most common glues used for imping feathers: rapid cyanoacrylate and rapid epoxy resin.
Image of 15.18
15.18 Constricting ring associated with hyperkeratosis in a Domestic Canary. Following ring removal. The debris released should be examined under a microscope in order to confirm infestation. After ring removal, the bone is often left exposed. In this case a hydrocolloid dressing is used over the wound. Bandages are also very useful to promote healing.
Image of 15.19
15.19 Ring removal from the leg of a Domestic Canary using specially designed ring removal scissors.
Image of 15.20
15.20 Specialist ring removal tools are a recommended investment for avian practices.
Image of 15.21
15.21 Removing a steel ring. A tongue depressor is used to protect the underlying tissues from the tool and the heat produced. A grinding tool equipped with a diamond disc cuts through the steel ring. Two cuts in the resistant ring are required to remove it without risking damage to the leg.
Image of 15.22
15.22 Step-by-step guide to microchip implantation. The feathers of the pectoral region are parted and the skin is prepared aseptically. The skin is stretched to one side laterally to the chosen microchip site. The needle is inserted in the caudal third of the muscle mass and directed cranially to place the microchip in the middle of the pectoral mass. Digital pressure should be placed on the underlying muscle when the needle is withdrawn. The holes in the skin (arrowed) and muscle (circled) are not aligned.


Beak trimming.

Beak trimming in a Blue and Gold Macaw

Intravenous catheter.

Intravenous catheter inserted into the tarsal vein of a macaw

Intraosseous catheter – tibiotarsus.

Intraosseous catheterization in a Cockatiel

Intraosseous catheter – ulna.

Intraosseous catheterization in a Grey Parrot

Intravenous injection.

Intravenous injection in the tarsal vein of a macaw

Jugular blood sample.

Jugular blood sample taken from a non-anaesthetized Grey Parrot

Jugular blood sample – anaesthetized.

Jugular blood sample taken from an anaesthetized Harris’ Hawk


Microchipping a non-anaesthetized Grey Parrot

Microchipping – anaesthetized.

Microchipping an anaesthetized Black-headed Caique

Nail trimming.

Nail trimming in an anaesthetized Black-headed Caique

Nasal flushing.

Nasal flushing performed on an Amazon parrot

Oral medication.

Oral medication administered to a tame Amazon parrot

Ring removal.

Removal of a steel ring from a Canary

Subcutaneous injection.

Subcutaneous injection into the precrural fold of a lovebird

Wing trimming.

Wing trimming in a Double Yellow-headed Amazon

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error