Black-Capped Chickadee Beak Deformity

Chickadee with beak deformityI made this little animation to show how this poor chickadee was being bothered by its beak deformity.  Every so often it would rub its beak against the edge of the bird feeder like this.  It appeared relatively healthy so it must have been able to eat satisfactorily, but apparently this deformity causes it to be obsessive about trying to scrape off the excess beak.

6 responses

  1. nutsfortreasure

    I had a parakeet this happened to as well 😦

    November 17, 2014 at 12:55 am

  2. There was a paper on this in The Auk in 2012 – the chickadees with bill deformities had a detectably different diet from unaffected chickadees, due to compensating for the reduction in bill function.

    It’s not a bad idea, to try to wear off the excess keratin. I wonder if behaviors like this can mitigate the handicap for some birds?

    We still don’t seem to know what’s causing it…

    November 21, 2014 at 12:07 am

    • Hard to believe that we don’t know what causes it yet… maybe I should have put a cuttle bone out there for it!

      November 23, 2014 at 4:13 am

      • I know – the paper describing the epidemic of bill deformities came out even earlier, in 2010! But then, we only just recently figured out what was going on with that melting-starfish epidemic, so I guess these things take time. I think they think the bill deformities are some kind of disease – possibly a virus – not a lack of a nutrient, like calcium. But hey, a cuttlebone certainly couldn’t hurt.

        November 24, 2014 at 5:41 am

      • I might put a cuttlebone out there. But I kind of doubt they would use it. A love bird that we adopted would not use a cuttlebone and her beak grew too long and I had to have a vet come over and take care of it. So you never know.
        Thanks for your input on this! Your blog is awesome and I love the little comments you make on your photos by the way. Have a great thanksgiving 🙂

        November 24, 2014 at 6:03 am

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