Stuff You Probably Don't Know, But Should

Since I've been doing consulting, I have come to the realization that with age comes wisdom. Well, I'm approaching my 20-year vet school reunion, so I needed to find some positive spin on getting older, okay? Actually, I think I have learned a few things along this pathway that I have chosen, and I would like to share the common-sense, nuts-and-bolts information that will help you in the day-to-day practice of avian veterinary medicine.

I have had the privilege of working with facilities breeding some of the most rare and endangered parrots on this planet. I have worked with a group of bird breeders who wanted to offer to the pet trade the finest baby parrots anywhere, so they practiced excellent preventative flock medicine, maintained superior nurseries and vaccinated all of their offspring. I have worked with top pet retailers selling psittacines into the pet trade. I have a wonderful client base of committed, caring pet parrot owners who allow me to practice the kind of avian medicine that I want to. I have visited aviaries in other countries, and had the privilege of spending time in the Republic of South Africa, lecturing and traveling to some of the most amazing aviaries I have ever seen.

My first words of wisdom for you are these: It always pays to listen to your clients. They live with their birds and they will often pick up on subtle clues that you won't see during the stress-filled (hopefully, just for the bird) office exam. If they think their birds are sick, then they probably are! One referral client of mine insisted that her Amazon swallowed a sliver of wood and it was stuck somewhere in the oropharynx or esophagus, and she went to half a dozen avian vets, all of whom insisted that that was an impossibility. Well, guess what? A piece of wood had pierced the oropharynx and had causes a derangement of the TMJ on one side due to the abscess and fibrous tissue that resulted. The astute owner had observed that the bird had begun making choking motions, rubbing its beak and yawning immediately after chewing on a wooden toy. That began a six-month period of frustration for the owner as she tried to get an answer about her bird's illness. She visited five or six vets in her area, drove five hours to a veterinary school and began making calls to set up phone consultations. That's how she found me. When I told her that if she thought the bird had a splinter of wood in its throat, then it probably did, the woman burst into tears. I was the first vet to take her seriously about what she thought was wrong! Please, please listen to your clients when you are taking the history and signalment, and don't form any preconceived ideas about what the problem is (or is not, as the case may be), as that might color your diagnostic impression. First and foremost, listen to your clients.

I highly recommend that you purchase (from the Association of Avian Veterinarians) the AAV Certificate of Veterinary Examination and use them for every patient. It has a place to mark down any tattoos, band numbers, microchip number, etc. Most of the vets that I consult with through Antech do not even know if a specific patient of theirs is banded or not, and they certainly have not written it down anywhere. This becomes of vital importance in regards to necropsies and histopath. Many of my aviculturists would have been happy to replace a young bird that had died, IF the vet who performed the necropsy had written down the band number, identifying the bird as originating from their aviary. If histopathology is performed, again, make sure that the band or microchip number appears on the paperwork. It will save everyone a pile of headaches and legal wrangling, should there ever be questions as to the origin and ownership of the bird. Also, many birds are bred in Florida and shipped all over the country as babies. This brings me to my next point.

I have been saying this for years (because I have been seeing this for years!) and here it is: Many young and adult birds can be harboring ascarids (especially if they were parent-raised for any length of time) and you can run fecals all day, and guess what? The fecals will almost always be negative. A paper out of the Univ. of Georgia a few years back confirmed this. Many a time I have been a hero when I have dewormed a bird during a second or third opinion, when it passes a pile of ascarids and shocks the owner after being repeatedly told by other vets that "the fecal was negative." Well, deworm it anyway, with something safe. I routinely use pyrantel pamoate, since you can't hurt a bird with it, unless you aspirate it! I have seen dosages ranging from 0.1 to 1.0 ml per kg of body weight. Don't use fenbendazole, as it can cause idiosyncratic liver problems or death. In my experience, ivermectin works for mites and lice, but not very well for ascarids or capillaria. My point is, if a bird has a band indicating that it was bred in Florida, you might be better off deworming it unless it was dewormed according to paperwork that came with the bird (an AAV Certificate of Examination with my name on it, for example!)

Another reason that I like giving owners the AAV Certificate of Examination is because it gives the owner a complete record of the office visit, including weight (in grams, please, not ounces or portions of a kilogram!), ID, results of the physical exam, any treatments administered, and any tests performed. I think owners should have this information. I practice in Florida (I might have mentioned that before) and we have hurricanes, tornadoes, and serious thunderstorms, all which might result in power and phone lines being down. Should owners need to evacuate with their birds, it would be great for them to have copies of their medical records.

Every physical examination should include dipping a cotton-tipped applicator in 5% acetic acid (white vinegar), inserting it into the cloaca to evert the cloacal mucosa for visual examination (in appropriate species). You can learn a lot from looking at the mucosa. If it is angry red, the bird might have an enteritis. If it is pale, the bird might be anemic. If there are white lesions, the bird might have papillomas, although the 5% acetic acid will turn other lesions white, as well. Amazons, macaws and mini-macaws are most likely to have internal papillomas, although I have also seen them in Jardine's parrots and African Greys. Lesions may be seen anywhere from the oropharynx through to the cloaca. Biopsy is diagnostic, but a presumptive diagnosis can be made based on the appearance of the lesions.

Regarding the age of a parrot, unless the bird was purchased as a baby, it is best to not take the owner's word for it. For example, an owner might say that their Double Yellow-headed Amazon is 26 yrs. old. Remember that, while some people were breeding these birds in captivity in the United States over 25 years ago, at that time birds were still being imported into this country. The bird may have been imported as a baby (as many Blue-fronted Amazons were) or it may have been imported as an adult. So, while an owner might have owned a bird for 26 yrs. (and was probably told by a pet store that the bird was one or two years old at the time), in reality, it could be a lot older. This can change your differential list for diagnosis. Also, I have seen lots of imports with tapeworms (that passed segments 20 plus years after importation!) Papillomas are a lot more common in imports, as well. Imported birds (that came into the country legally through quarantine) all had a stainless steel band applied to one leg. The band would be open, meaning it would have a gap where it was clamped on. Each band would be stamped with three letters and three numbers. The first letter would indicate which quarantine station it came in through (I for the Chicago, Illinois station, F for the Miami, Florida station, and C for the California stations, as there were two). The band will not give any other information other than which shipment it came in with, and which station it was quarantines through.

Unless you have Superman-like vision, I recommend that you use a good quality magnifying loupe for examination of birds. This will greatly help you observe the choanal slit and choanal papillae and evaluate eyes, ears, skin, feathers, follicles, etc. I also recommend that you use a good quality light source to illuminate those orifices. You are doing your smaller patients a major disservice if you are not using magnification. Magnification is also very helpful for reading the numbers and letters on bird leg bands.

While performing the physical examination, make sure that you examine the ears. Part the feathers and wet them, if necessary, with a little rubbing alcohol, to better view the external acoustic meatus, which is nearly always circular. The external ear canal may be examined with a small otoscope or a small telescope attached to a fiber-optic cable. Ceruminous debris may accumulate in the canal, and can be a sign of otitis externa, which is most common in lovebirds, and the occasional conure, macaw, Amazon or Eclectus. It is usually possible to visualize the tympanic membrane. I have examined a hyacinth macaw, purchased by my client, as the third owner, and not one of the other vets who had examined this bird during the course of its life had noted that it only had one external acoustic meatus, the right one being completely sealed over! Don't let this happen to you!

If you need to swab the choanal slit, for a Gram's stain or for a culture, cytology or other types of staining (Acid-fast, for example), don't use a metal speculum to keep the beak open, as this can injure the delicate tissues of the beak. I recommend using a dog Nylabone (in the color of your choice, no less) with a hole drilled through the center, which will allow a moistened cotton-tipped applicator to fit through it. The Nylabone has a bit of give, which is better for a bird's beak. While we're on the subject of Gram's staining, I always recommend that you swab the choana and cloaca. If it's a baby bird, swab the crop, as well. I put all the swabs onto one slide, always in the same order, choana, crop, cloaca. For me, it helps in interpreting what's going on by looking at both ends.

If you have a feather-picking cockatiel, chances are that is suffering from giardiasis. I would estimate that 75-80% of cockatiels that feather-pick have giardia, even if you have run a fecal wet-mount that was negative. Giardia isn't shed in every dropping, and the trophozoites disintegrate quickly, so fresh, steaming, right-out-of-the-bird droppings must be examined. If you want to confirm a presumptive diagnosis, use preserved feces, and send them off to a lab that does special stains for giardia. A high percentage of feather-picking budgies, lovebirds and other small birds, as well as occasionally large birds, will be suffering from giardiasis.

Everyone seems to think that metronidazole is the most effective drug to treat giardiasis. It isn't. It is effective in less than 50% of the cases, substantiated by a specialty lab that does extensive parasitology (Parasitology Research Lab, LLC, phone: 417-451-0201, P.O. Box 10/357, Neosho, MO, 64850-1320). The only drug that I have ever found that works in clearing giardia is ronidazole. This drug is available as a water-soluble powder that is available from Global Pigeon Supply (phone: 912-356-1320). It is mixed, 1 tsp. per gallon of drinking water, for five days. It is very safe and efficacious in treating giardiasis. I recommend that birds be treated in a water bottle, to prevent reinfestation. Most birds learn to use a water bottle in no time, as they stick their beak into the tube, and water comes out.

Along those lines, I do recommend that all pet and breeder birds be converted to water bottles, anyway. It has been my experience that birds will have a higher level of sub-clinical bacterial infections from drinking out of water bowls, since they tend to dunk food and also to defecate into the water, increasing levels of bacteria rapidly.

Global Pigeon Supply also sells water-soluble doxycycline, which is a great treatment for those little psittacines going to live in nursing homes or in homes with immunocompromised owners. They also sell Ronidazone Plus, for birds (like those little pet store budgies) with giardia and secondary enteritis.

If you do have bird with feather picking problems, PLEASE do not use topical preparations with steroids, especially betamethasone or dexamethasone. Research has shown that inflamed follicles rapidly absorb steroids, resulting in systemic effects. Preening birds will also ingest topical preparations. Even worse, oral or injectable steroids, including prednisone and prednisolone, can be very dangerous. All steroids are immunosuppressive. I have seen African Grey parrots develop aspergillosis after five days of topical eye drops with steroids, or after two weeks on a canine ear preparation with betamethasone. In addition to the immunosuppression, it usually causes a persistent hyperglycemia, with resultant polyuria/polydypsia. This will usually resolve once the steroids are discontinued. If a bird does have giardia, I'm not sure that using an immunosuppressive steroid is a good thing to do.

When it comes to drawing blood on birds, since I have a housecall practice, I often must do all of my testing in front of the clients. They usually have strong feelings about not liking jugular venipunctures. My favorite vein for drawing blood for testing is the medial metatarsal vein. It runs diagonally across the medial aspect of the hock. Pluck the feathers just proximal to the scaled portion of the leg. (If you perform the venipuncture in the scaled area, you will have problems with hemostasis). The big mistake everyone makes when attempting venipuncture of the medial metatarsal vein is using a plunger in the syringe. I usually use a 27 ga. ½ needle, without the plunger. Wet the skin with alcohol to better visualize the vein. If you can use your index and middle finger of the hand you are using to restrain the leg, to hold off the vein around the stifle, the vein will raise. Gently cannulate the vein, bevel up, and the back-pressure that develops by holding off the vein will begin to fill the syringe by capillary action. Since avian blood clots more slowly than mammal blood, you should have plenty of time to draw enough blood for a CBC, chemistry panel and any other blood tests necessary. Prior to transferring the blood to the microhematocrit tubes, cut the needle off to prevent hemolysis, then insert the plunger, and gently transfer the blood into the appropriate tubes. I recommend using B+D Microtainer green top tubes with lithium heparin for the CBC. B+D also makes a green top tube with a separator gel. Use this for the chemistries, after spinning down the blood. While you can use a red top tube with separator gel for the chemistries, you will get a greater volume of plasma than serum. This can be of great importance when dealing with small patients. The general rule is that you can draw 1 cc from a 100 gram healthy bird (which is a good weight for a large cockatiel). You can draw 10 cc from a 1000 gram macaw, but that is almost never necessary. For most CBC and chemistry panels run (through Antech, anyway) 1 cc of blood should be all we need. So, for a budgie weighing 34 grams, if it is healthy, you can draw 0.34 ml. In cases like that, I recommend that to maximize testing, you make two good blood smears (for the estimated white blood cell count and differential) and fill two hematocrit tubes for PCVs. Put the rest of the blood into a GTT with a separator gel and spin it for the chems. I never recommend using any of the wing veins, as venipuncture will result in a huge hematoma and it is possible to fracture a wing in a struggling bird. Regardless of the method of venipuncture that you choose, it should not be necessary to anesthetize a bird for a physical exam, venipuncture and testing in most cases. If you have someone who is comfortable with birds and knows how to perform gentle restraint, anesthesia is unnecessary unless you are performing a painful procedure. However, if you choose to use anesthesia, please be sure to completely inform the client prior to doing so, and don't just whisk the bird into the back room and gas it down.

Birds housed indoors, in air conditioning in the summer, or in dry heated homes in the winter, may suffer from sinusitis. Chronic sinus problems seem to occur most often in Amazons. While it is possible to treat the infections, the sinusitis will usually reoccur unless husbandry changes are made. I usually recommend that the owners take the bird into the bathroom with them when they are showering, so that the bird will benefit from the increased humidity. (Make sure the commode lid is down and it is not flushed while the bird is in the bathroom, as flushing aerosolizes all sorts of nasty bacteria). If possible, the bird should be kept in a room with plenty of living houseplants, which will also increase the humidity. Running a humidifier or vaporizer to increase humidity is also helpful (but make sure that the water tank is clean and free of bacteria and fungi). Some owners will be able to mist their bird with water, which may also help. If possible, having an owner flush the nostrils periodically with sterile saline to mechanically remove debris is very helpful.

While I'm on the subject of flushing nostrils, I usually don't recommend adding antibiotics or antifungals to the flushing solution. I have heard of cases where medications have caused serious chemical burns to the delicate mucous membranes. It is probably best to just use sterile saline, which works quite well on its own.

For serious sinusitis, I usually also nebulize birds, using the same antibiotic that I am using systemically. You can purchase (slightly) used nebulizers from human respiratory companies at a great discount. If a nebulizer is delivered to a patient for in-home use, and the patient dies prior to it being used, or if was only used a few times, it can no longer be sold as new. These companies are often willing to sell them to vets. I have a half dozen that I rent out to my clients so that they can nebulize their pets at home. In most cases, the bird is much less stressed by home treatment.

In cases where birds have blunted choana papilla, or the Gram's stain shows sheets of epithelial cells, these are usually signs of hypovitaminosis A. Injectable vitamin A can be hard to find in a concentration acceptable for avian patients, although it can be compounded by a pharmacist. Vitamin A, if overdosed, is toxic. However, beta-carotene is non-toxic. When beta-carotene is ingested, the body converts what it needs to vitamin A, and the rest is excreted unchanged. So this is much safer to administer to pet birds. I usually recommend that the owner purchase beta-carotene capsules, available in drug stores and health food stores, and puncture the end, in order to give a bird a drop or so orally or on a yummy food. Red-factor canary supplements also contain lots of beta-carotene.

While most pharmacists are willing to compound drugs for veterinarians, until recently, I was unaware that it is possible for pharmacists to become board certified in compounding. You may want to seek out such a specialist in order to develop a good working relationship with someone well-versed in concocting the strange medications that we often need.

I might be getting in trouble with some bird food companies on this one, but here it goes. Many of my colleagues, myself included, have noted over the years, that a high percentage of cockatiels fed primarily pellets have developed renal disease. Most of these birds are 5-10 years of age. It is my opinion that these pellets may be too high in protein and/or vitamin D3 for cockatiels that are primarily seed-eaters in the wild. It may be better to recommend that our cockatiel patients be fed a percentage of pellets, a percentage of seed, some sprouted, plus whole-wheat bread, vegetables, fruits and table foods. The same may be true for budgies, and other small birds that are primarily seed-eaters in the wild.

Many cockatiels and budgies can be asymptomatic carriers of chlamydiosis. Testing in these small birds can be problematic. It is recommended that the EBA titer be run on cockatiels suspected of harboring the Chlamydophila organism. A pooled choanal/cloacal swab can also be run on birds suspected of shedding the organism. If a bird is already on antibiotics, do not run DNA PCR tests, as the antibiotics will usually prevent shedding, and may actually interfere with testing of the blood for the DNA PCR tests.

The AAV has excellent hand-outs for client education on diseases, nutrition, signs of illness, children and pets, grooming, permanent identification, etc. I recommend that you purchase these to give out to your clients. Winger's Publishing also has excellent brochures about the different species of birds, their personalities, husbandry requirements and statistics. Providing your clients with this type of information is invaluable (and will save you a lot of repetitive discussions about disease, nutrition, etc.)

Ill birds that have not eaten for 24 hours or more will usually develop, dark, dark green, sticky droppings. This is often mistaken for melena, but it is actually biliverdin, from the liver. This is a commonly made mistake. If in doubt, add a drop of saline and smear the feces onto a white paper. Biliverdin will appear green. If a bird is passing these tarry droppings, it is vital that you begin administering parenteral fluids and gavage feedings. I hardly ever use IV or IO fluid administration anymore, as I have discovered using hyaluronidase (Wydase, Ayerst Labs). If you add 150 units of hyaluronidase to 1 liter of fluids, this will greatly facilitate absorption of SQ fluids. I think IO catheters are very painful and may actually impede recovery on occasion. Lafeber Company makes a critical care formula for gavage-feeding ill birds. If that is not available, you can always use a baby parrot hand-feeding formula. Do not crush up dog food to feed to ill birds. It is well-known that dog foods have allowable levels of bacteria that are not dangerous to dogs, but can be pathogenic, especially to debilitated birds. Monkey biscuits are also not appropriate for birds. Monkey biscuits are for monkeys, and also contain allowable levels of certain bacteria.

From time to time, I hear a client or vet tell me that a bird cannot have bread, due to a previous diagnosis of candidiasis. I have never understood the connection. Any brewer's yeast found in breadmaking is killed during the baking process. Candidiasis is usually secondary to hypovitaminosis A or from "swapping spit" with pet birds, and not from consuming bread products. My only rationale that I could come up with regarding not feeding bread, is because the glutens and sugars in bread could support Candida. I think there are much worse foods to feed than bread.

When it comes to vaccination for polyomavirus, I do recommend that all babies receive vaccines (administered SQ) at 5 and 7 weeks of age, especially if they are going into a pet store, or into a multiple pet bird household. The only adult birds that should be vaccinated are those that are going to be boarded or will be attending bird shows. Adult caiques, Eclectus and grass parakeets may die if exposed to polyoma, so they should be vaccinated every six months. The vaccines is available from Biommune, 8906 Rosehill Rd, Lenexa, KS 66215, phone: 913-894-0230.

Injectable doxycycline. It's not just for chlamydiosis. If you have access to the German or Dutch intramuscular doxy, it is a great choice for treatment of many different types of infections, except for really nasty, antibiotic-resistant bacteria (like hot Pseudomonas). Many folks think that the injectable doxy is only useful for treating chlamydiosis. I use it a lot, for those little budgies that belong to ancient owners who are in no way EVER going to treat their little darling with an oral medication every 12 hrs. for two weeks. I use it for those nasty, related-to-pit-viper breeding Amazons that will exsanguinate their owner before treatment is finished. I use it for those particularly difficult to medicate turtles and tortoises (using the same doses that I would for birds, even though pharmacokinetic studies have not been performed in reptiles. It sure works clinically!)

While we are on the subject of antibiotics, most people don't know that Bayer has had a water-soluble enrofloxacin, Baytril, available for several years. It is a 3.23 % oral solution, labeled for use in poultry. Unfortunately, Bayer has no plans to try to promote this for small animals or exotics. It comes in quart containers, but you cannot purchase it directly from Bayer, as you must buy a zillion gallons at a time. It can be used as a water treatment for individual birds or for flock treatment, and the label gives dosages for 50 ppm and 100 ppm dosages. It can also be given orally, but it does taste somewhat bitter (but so does the injectable Baytril, which people use orally in patients). I usually have the owners draw up the dose, then draw up some fruit juice to cut the taste. The good news is that birds have only about a tenth of the number of taste buds of those found in mammals. The best way to acquire this product at this time, is to make friends with someone raising poultry commercially or someone with an egg farm, and buy some off of them. Hello, Mr. Perdue?……But, it might help to put pressure on Bayer by telling your reps that carry Bayer products that you really want the water-soluble enrofloxacin solution. Bayer has said that since it would be an extra-label use, they are not interested in selling it to us. But, if enough vets ask for it, they might relent and at least make it easy for a distributor to sell it to us!

If a bird keeps breaking tail feathers (and baby Greys commonly do this) check and see if the bird is being kept in a round cage. Birds that hang on the sides of a round cage will often break tail feathers. If you must pluck some primary or secondary remiges or retrices, always tell the owners that plucking will cause some degree of damage to the follicle. In most cases, the feather(s) will regrow normally, but on occasion, a feather may grow in abnormally, or develop a feather cyst, after plucking (especially repeatedly). If a bird plucks feathers long enough, there may be enough damage to the follicle that feathers will cease growing. If a bird has broken tail feathers, to help them grow in, put the tail into an appropriate sized envelope, which can be stapled to the remaining feathers, or taped in place, to prevent damage to blood feathers, so that hopefully they will grow in normally. If a young bird continues to break blood feathers on the wings, it may be necessary to splint the wings to the body until all of the blood feathers are grown out (this usually takes about 2-3 weeks).

Grooming is a very necessary skill for avian veterinarians. I guarantee that more bad-will is generated by vets who do a poor job of trimming wing feathers than any other reason. It is vital that you learn how to safely and gently restrain pet birds for grooming, and that you learn how to properly trim the different kinds of birds. Make sure that you and your staff can restrain a macaw, mini-macaw or African grey so that you don't leave bruises on the bare skin of the face. Owners really resent that and it implies that you were rough with their bird (even if you weren't!) I perform and recommend the type of wing clip where I trim each feather individually, all the way at the base (where it is a quill, termed calamus) with cat or bird claw trimmers. I start at the tip of the wing, with the last primary (12) and clip five feathers on each wing, being careful no to cut the overlying covert and to avoid cutting a blood feather. Primaries are numbered from medial to distal. After clipping, then test fly the bird, to make sure that it glides to the ground and does not gain horizontal or upward flight. If necessary, clip additional feathers. I do not like the type of clip where the primaries are cut in half at the level of the coverts. This leaves sharp quills that poke the bird in the ribs when the wings are folded at rest. May birds, especially Eclectus, Greys and cockatoos, will chew on those cut feather ends trying to soften them. This may actually lead a bird to become a feather picker.

It is important that you learn the normals for the different species. Many times, Amazon parrots will develop cranial growth of the beak, leaving a kind of ridge near the tip. Flaking is normal for Amazons and conures, especially. But if a ridge develops, you can use a grinding tool to shape the beak back to normal. Some birds will grow an excessively long beak, and while it is true that this can be a sign of liver disease, often it just means that the bird is not chewing enough to naturally grind down the beak normally. Always check the maxillary tomium (the cutting edge) of the rhinotheca to ensure that it is straight across. It often becomes irregular in the Jardine's parrots, and the abnormal pressure on the two sides of the upper beak (gnathotheca) will often lead to the beak curving to one side. To shape and straighten out the tomium, manipulate the upper beak INSIDE of the lower beak, which will give you a way to grind the beak easily, out of reach of the rhinotheca and tongue. As you grind the beak, you will see little white dots, which are the sensitive nerves found there. Stop grinding when you visualize the dots or if you keep going, you will reach the blood vessels embedded in the beak, as well. Many vets overlook examination of the tomium. The gnathotheca can really overgrow in macaws and may need to be shortened.

For trimming nails, I often use a grinding tool, then I shape the nails with a nail file made for acrylic nails. If I manage to hit the quick and the nail bleeds, I toss out the grinder head and put on a new one.

Thyroid testing is controversial in birds. You should never base a diagnosis of hypothyroidism on one thyroid test, nor should you rule it out based on one test. Technically, you should always do a THS-stim test for diagnosis. Measurement of T4 is the most logical choice for diagnosing hypothyroidism. However, normal T4 levels are much lower than those in mammals, and you must make sure that the lab you are using is actually able to measure the level with their assay, and that the level is not below the detection limits of the test. Stress can significantly lower T4 concentrations. I think hypothyroidism is way over-diagnosed (incorrectly) in pet birds.

Regarding calcium levels, especially in African grey parrots: don't rule out hypocalcemia problems based on one blood test showing a calcium level in the normal range. Calcium levels dip and rise according to circadian rhythm. If a grey is feather picking, or is clumsy, or has had a seizure, try treating with calcium in the drinking water, supplementing with TumsTM (calcium carbonate) and having the owner offer more high calcium food (cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt and almonds).

Well, those are the most important things that I wanted you to know. As my parting thought, I wanted to make a suggestion. In addition to attending continuing education and purchasing textbooks on birds, do me a favor and buy Birds: Their Structure and Function, by A. S. King and J. McLelland and actually read it. I did for my board exams, but I find myself referring to it all the time now. It is packed with all sorts of interesting and useful information about birds; how their eyes can see light in the ultraviolet range, the way feathers grow and how molting occurs and how eggs are formed. It's really neat stuff and goes to show just how unique birds are, and why we love them so much.

Copyright © 2006 Margaret A. Wissman, D.V.M., D.A.B.V.P.
All Rights Reserved

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