The Smallest of Splints

While being bitten by a cat is far from pleasant, it’s even more of a drag if you’re a bird. If you are a bird and a cat sinks its teeth into your feathered flesh, you are at risk of dying even from a tiny bite. Why? Well, there are bacteria in a cat’s saliva that are toxic to birds. So even a small bite can be lethal to our flying friends. Watch a video of this northern cardinal!

However, with proper and quick treatment, birds can be saved from an untimely death. A good wound cleaning and a course of antibiotics often do the trick.

Above, VINS staff members work on removing a splint from a cardinal’s leg.

In January, VINS Wildlife Services received a northern cardinal that had been attacked by a cat. In addition to the bite itself, the bird had a fractured bone in its left leg. We started the bird on an antibiotic, and splinted the leg… using a very tiny, tiny, tiny splint. A cardinal’s leg, after all, is not much thicker than a toothpick.

The cardinal’s splint remained on its leg for about 2 weeks before being removed. The bone was healing, but needed more time, so the splint was replaced. Finally, after 3 weeks, the splint was removed and the bone successfully healed. The bird is eating well and will soon be moved to our outdoor songbird aviary to build up muscle strength. Happily, this ruby red gem will likely return to his proper place in the wild.

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