Avian Medical Case: Bird Feet Health

Avian Medical Case: Bird Feet Health

Avian Medical Case: Bird Feet Health

By Dr. Julie Burge, DVM Burge Bird Service | Burge Bird Rescue


A bird's feet are the base of his body, and they have to be healthy for them to be able to function. After a long day of working on your feet, you can't wait to get home and prop your poor, tired feet up. Did you ever think about the fact that your bird usually can't do that? They have to stand up 24/7/365 unless they sit in a nest and get a bit of a break. So normal feet are vitally important to their health and happiness. 

Photo 1: Toenails should not spiral like a spring!

Photo 2: While you are checking the feet, make sure the leg band isn't too tight.

Photo 3: If a foot is swollen, check for fibers that may have wrapped and tightened around the foot.

Photo 4: When your bird is hanging on the cage bars, you have a good opportunity to look for early signs of pododermatitis, also known as bumble foot. This is an early stage, where part of the bottom of the foot is slightly swollen and pink. Causes of bumble foot include poor diet, obesity, old age, too much time on the same size perch or a rough (sandy) perch.

Photo 5: Advanced pododermatitis.

Photo 6: Bumble foot in a chicken, swollen with pus from infection (not usually seen in parrots)

Photo 7: Scaly skin buildup on an older canary can be normal, in this case it is making the band too tight.

Photo 8: Cnemodecoptes, also known as scaly face and leg mites, usually seen in budgies and canaries. The scales that the mites create are causing the band to be too tight.

Photo 9: Articular gout, seen as whitish lumps under the skin, indicative of kidney failure.

Now go check all of your birds and make sure their feet are healthy!


  • Ruth, is there a local shelter you could call? Animal shelters usually do welfare checks anonymously.

    Paige on

  • Can birds have fungal infections (dermatophytosis) on their foot pads like dogs? I have a bird that has a few yellowish calluses between toes and on the undersides of a few toes. The areas are not inflamed, nor are there abcesses.

    Jon on

  • My neighbors keep several birds that they neglect, and i suspect their cockatiel may have bumble foot. Shudder…hope that bird will be fine. i am a child and so i cannot do much.

    Ruth on

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