Feather Replacement Surgery for Blue and Gold Macaw

Hello Steve,

I have a 5 month old Blue and Gold Macaw whose wings were clipped off by the breeder. While she is still young and her brain is still developing I would like her to be able to experience life the way she was meant to. Can you assist in replacing her flight feathers?

Sincerely,
Jeff and PG (Pretty Girl)
South Carolina USA

 

Yes Jeff, we have a popular process called imping that we use to replace the flight feathers on birds with damaged wing feathers.

Thanks,
Steve

           secondpic

(Special thanks to Greg Glendell, UK, who has been promoting and writing about imping parrots for many years http://www.greg-parrots.co.uk/articles.php)

1. PG arrives at The Parrot University for some plastic surgery.
1. PG arrives at The Parrot University for some plastic surgery.
2. Before the surgery molted donor feathers are chosen and prepared with splints. Each feather is slightly different so it is important to properly choose the replacement feathers.
2. Before the surgery molted donor feathers are chosen and prepared with splints. Each feather is slightly different so it is important to properly choose the replacement feathers.
3. Feather shafts melt like plastic so a heated razor blade can cut the shaft without fracturing the plastic like keratin. This is important for preparing the donor feathers since the area where the splint is inserted into the feathered portion is shorter and will not hold up as well if the end of the shaft is fractured by cutting with a scissors.
3. Feather shafts melt like plastic so a heated razor blade can cut the shaft without fracturing the plastic like keratin. This is important for preparing the donor feathers since the area where the splint is inserted into the feathered portion is shorter and will not hold up as well if the end of the shaft is fractured by cutting with a scissors.
4. The interior of the shaft attached to the bird is longer and larger that the feathered portion. Since the bamboo splint will insert farther into the attached portion of the feather it will be able to adhere well even if the end of the shaft has small fractures from cutting with a scissors.
4. The interior of the shaft attached to the bird is longer and larger that the feathered portion. Since the bamboo splint will insert farther into the attached portion of the feather it will be able to adhere well even if the end of the shaft has small fractures from cutting with a scissors.
View of the Interior Shaft
5. View of the Interior Shaft
6. The brown edge can be easily scraped off on a sanding sponge or sand paper.
6. The brown edge can be easily scraped off on a sanding sponge or sand paper.    
7. A small drill bit is used to remove the pith from the feather. Thin bamboo pieces are shaved and sanded until they fit perfectly into the feather shaft. We use Krazy glue as our adhesive because this brand has the best applicators.
7. A small drill bit is used to remove the pith from the feather. Thin bamboo pieces are shaved and sanded until they fit perfectly into the feather shaft. We use Krazy glue as our adhesive because this brand has the best applicators.
8.Jeff (PG’s owner) and Mary Beth Benton (Hartman Aviary Manager) hold PG while Steve replaces feathers. You can see we have replaced a few fathers with about 5 more to go.
8. Jeff (PG’s owner) and Mary Beth Benton (Hartman Aviary Manager) hold PG while Steve replaces feathers. You can see we have replaced a few fathers with about 5 more to go.
9.A hot razor blade is difficult to safely cut the shaft next to an antsy parrot so we use scissors. The cut is made where the barbules start.
9. A hot razor blade is difficult to safely cut the shaft next to an antsy parrot so we use scissors. The cut is made where the barbules start.
10.Bamboo splints are made slightly large and need to be groomed for each shaft.
10. Bamboo splints are made slightly large and need to be groomed for each shaft.
Grooming the bamboo splints.
11. Grooming the bamboo splints.
12
12. Feathers need to be inserted at the correct angel so they will properly overlap and comfortably lay on the birds back.
View of Feathers
13. Side View of Feathers
14.There is very little gap when the pieces are pushed together.
14. There is very little gap when the pieces are pushed together.
15.We were short one Blue and Gold feather so we chose a Green Wing Macaw feather to fill in.
15. We were short one Blue and Gold feather so we chose a Green Wing Macaw feather to fill in.
16.PG has been living without arms for 6 weeks so her muscles are not used to holding the weight of all these feathers in place. Over the next few days she will need to learn how to preen her wings.
16. PG has been living without arms for 6 weeks so her muscles are not used to holding the weight of all these feathers in place. Over the next few days she will need to learn how to preen her wings.
17.I can fly; at least in a few days. Parrots learn most of their flying skills in the first two weeks of flying. Past this sensitive stage of development it will take months for PG to gain the skills she could have had in 14 days. Currently her muscles are in poor condition and her balance is compromised because her wings have been missing for 6 weeks. It will take about one week for her to develop muscle strength to fly across a room and land properly. Getting outside with the Aviator Harness will allow her more opportunity to freely explore with her wings and by spring she will be a whole bird again.
17. I can fly; at least in a few days. Parrots learn most of their flying skills in the first two weeks of flying. Past this sensitive stage of development it will take months for PG to gain the skills she could have had in 14 days. Currently her muscles are in poor condition and her balance is compromised because her wings have been missing for 6 weeks. It will take about one week for her to develop muscle strength to fly across a room and land properly. Getting outside with the Aviator Harness will allow her more opportunity to freely explore with her wings and by spring she will be a whole bird again.

Learn More about Thinking Outside the Cage at our Main Website
https://theparrotuniversity.com/

 

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4 thoughts on “Feather Replacement Surgery for Blue and Gold Macaw

  1. That is so wonderful! I had a grey who would constantly break left wing feathers and therefore spent most of the first six years of life without flight. 😦 He is well now, and growing more confident every day! I realize that this could not have helped because the feather shaft had to be removed or he would keep bleeding. That’s wonderful news for clipped birds though!

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  2. This sounds really wrong to me…putting your bird through surgery because you can’t just wait till his feathers naturally grow…

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    1. Hello Isabelle,

      I just noticed you comment about feather replacement.

      I believe you have not understood the process. All we are doing is gluing replacement feathers onto the existing shafts so the bird can benefit from flying immediately. It only take a few minutes and it is no problem for the bird.

      Best regards,
      Steve

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  3. This is absolutely wonderful the bird’s flight feathers were replaced with such an ingenious technique. Clever and very bird wellness oriented. Now the next step would be to educate the breeder who trimmed the feathers in the first place… I so wish this barbarian practice was made illegal. To me, cutting feathers is the same as if I were to cut your toes to prevent you from running too fast.
    Thanks
    Ellie

    Like

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