New feathers for Badly Burnt Cockatoo
Many species of exotic birds around the world are now endangered. In most cases this is result of human activity of one kind or another. Birds are threatened by the destruction of their natural habitats and by poaching. There are also many less obvious threats and these include power lines.
Recently, an endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo was treated at Perth Zoo in Australia following an incident involving power lines. The unfortunate bird was singed when it was sitting close to another bird which exploded!
The juvenile victim was taken to the zoo where he was nursed for a week to help him to recover from the shock and to gain the strength he required to undergo treatment. The young cockatoo was then adjudged to be fit enough to undergo the replacement of its damaged feathers. Despite his terrible ordeal, the cockatoo was eager to eat and so quickly began to improve.
But his feathers were so badly damaged that he would have been unable to fly again without the intervention of the vets at the zoo. They were able to give the bird new plumage using nothing more technical than matchsticks and superglue!
The burnt remains of the cockatoo’s original feathers were first cut away. Donor feathers were then shaped using matchsticks and were glued in place. The process is called "imping" and can be used to help domestic birds which have accidentally had their wings trimmed too short or to treat birds of prey which have sustained damage to their flight feathers.
The treatment is very basic but incredibly fiddly. It is hard to get the right feathers in the right places and at the perfect angle. The feathers must be correctly positioned before the glue sets them in place. Apparently, it is like a human getting hair extensions! Apart from the cutting away of dead tissue, that is!
Back to the Wild
The cockatoo now has his new feathers and continues to recover from his burns. The vets believe that there is every chance that he will be able to fly again soon. If he does manage to fly, he will be released back into the wild. He will be sent to a wildlife sanctuary first, in preparation for his release.
It is not known precisely how many Carnaby’s cockatoos remain in the wild but populations appear to have declined by something like 50% since the 1960’s. The species is native to south-western Australia and can be identified by its black plumage, white tail and white cheeks. Land clearing and urban sprawl have severely impacted the bird’s natural habitat and numbers continue to fall at an alarming rate.
Humans caused a nightmare for the particular cockatoo in question but on this occasion at least, humans were also able to help him to survive. Let’s hope that the little fellow does manage to make it back into the wild.