Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shama pecking at legs

Email from
Nicole Testa 
4:40 AM (5 hours ago)

Aloha David,
Your website has been very helpful and I have learned a lot from it, but I have a question about my shama that I can not seem to find the answer to.  He has been picking at his legs and I am not sure what this is about. (are these birds known to be on the neurotic side?)
He is an adult wild bird who sustained a broken wing and is unreleasable. I have had him for about a year now and about 2 months ago he started picking his ankle area.  I gave him a round of antibiotics (because his leg was swollen and red) and it got better but the area that he picks still looked like it was discolored. Now I noticed that he has begun to pick his other leg. (he picks at both now)  He has stopped singing (he used to sing all day long and now he's quiet, sometimes fluffy, sleeps more but he is still eating well.
He has given me a very hard time eating anything I infuse with Vitamen B complex liquid (so he has had very minimal B in the past month). He discards it, even though meal worms are his favorite. I do sprinkle some Nekton's vitamin's every other day on his food which does have a multitude of vitamins including B. Could this be causing this behavior ?  Do you think it could be boredom? Neurosis?  
Have you ever had any experience with shama's pecking at their legs?
any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

9:55 AM (41 minutes ago)

Hi Nicole,

The shama pecks at its legs because something irritates it.  My experience of this has been limited to the bird pecking at the leg band.  In severe cases, I have removed the band. I have discussed your problem with my good friend Jeffrey Low and his views are set out below.

There are many causes for the bird pecking at its legs.  The scales on the legs may be too dry, or there may be scaly feet mites or the diet may lack vitamin A.

As a first measure, I would increase Vitamin A in the diet by adding a very little Cod Liver OIl or any Vitamin A supplement.  I would also allow the bird to bathe more often; at least once or even twice a day.  Applying baby oil, such as Johnson's Baby Oil also helps.

I do not infuse liquid Vitamin B into the insects.  I find that it is sufficient to lightly coat my fingers with Vitamin B and then wipe it on the insects.  Start with just a little until the birds get used to the taste.  If the bird is eating dry food, adding powdered Vitamin B into the food is a good way to administer it.  Nekton sell 35 gm containers of Vitamin B in powder form.  Alternatively,  grind the tablets into powder.  Always bear in mind that Vitamin B spoils quickly if not properly stored.  It should be bright yellow in colour.  If it starts to turn dark, discard it.

Hope the above helps.

Best regards,


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