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What is Broken Beak?

A “beak scuffle” generally occurs when an enclosure is overcrowded, when birds of different sizes are enclosed together, if birds haven’t been introduced properly, but are made enclosure-mates, if one bird assumes a bully position among a group, or just because two birds - who are typically buddies – have a spontaneous fight. These scenarios, and many others, may lead to altercations that happen in a fraction of a second. While some of these scenarios can be avoided (such as careless caging), some cannot.

Like humans and any other species, birds fight. Before you know it, you are looking at one or two broken beaks, an injury which is just as dangerous, and as painful, as it sounds. While many birds wind up with some type of beak injury in their lifetime, management of the injury must be executed with the greatest care. The purpose of a bird’s beak is multi-fold; its primary job, of course, is to capture, secure and eat food. It makes probing for, and eating, insects easy. It cracks seeds. It’s used for drinking. The beak functions like human hands. It enables a bird to gather materials to build a nest, to feed its young, and to preen. And yes, a beak is sometimes used as a weapon; its hard surface can serve as an effective protectant. Given these reasons, we must assist with its repair, if possible. Most of us would want to help, but where to begin? Is a beak even repairable?

The beak consists of two parts: the upper and the lower mandible. The upper mandible differs from the lower mandible because it grows firmly out of the bird’s skull. The lower mandible can move independently, and operates as if on a hinge. Its hard surface is composed of skin, which is overlaid with a substance called keratin. Keratin is the same material that makes up human fingernails. The bird produces the keratin, which then dries to create the solid, durable beak. The keratin constantly regenerates to keep the beak intact and strong. Clearly, the loss of a beak is devastating, but it’s also very painful because the beak is connected to bone and nerve endings. It also has its own blood supply, so any type of crack, break or injury will cause substantial bleeding.

Many birds will experience a beak injury in their lifetime; while it’s a serious injury, there are options for recovery.

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Symptoms of Broken Beak in Birds

The appearance of a bird with a broken beak will be most evident. Not only will your bird look uncomfortable, he could be experiencing pain.

  • Injury to the beak 
  • Bleeding

Causes of Broken Beak in Birds

The primary cause of an injured or broken beak is fighting between birds. Another cause may be a collision between the bird and a building, a car, a tree, or other objects and structures. Breakage of the beak will cause extensive bleeding and damage to the keratin.

Diagnosis of Broken Beak in Birds

The first action to take if your bird suffers a beak injury is to apply pressure to the bleeding. Contacting the veterinarian (an avian veterinarian, if possible) or animal clinic should be your next step. If you are not able to make an immediate trip to your veterinarian (though you must see a vet within 24 hours), many veterinarians or technicians will offer you guidance by telephone until your appointment.

In the meantime, do not remove any part of the damaged beak. This may increase the bleeding, and a beak injury can cause a bird to bleed to death. Some bird owners consider using Super Glue to try and fix a crack, but this is also not recommended. Glue, due to fumes and other chemicals, could burn not only the wound, but also the bird’s eyes and skin.

To slow bleeding until you can make it to the vet, you could try to "cork" the area using a mass of softened soap from the underside of a typical bar of bathroom soap. However, this is an option only to be used in emergency, and hopefully just while on route to the vet.

The primary means of diagnosing a beak injury is a physical exam conducted by a (preferably avian) veterinarian; sedation may be needed if the bird is under extreme stress.

Treatment of Broken Beak in Birds

It’s important to keep the wound sterile, particularly because tissues may be exposed and could be susceptible to infection. Also, the tissues tend to dry out, which will cause the bird irritation and discomfort. The vet will likely recommend that you rinse the wound with sterile saline solution (contact lens solution is fine, but make sure it’s preservative free) to maintain moisture as well as a clean wound site.

Once at the appointment, the vet will examine the injury and recommend the best course of treatment. Options include wiring the beak, or covering it with a type of protective “cast” or acrylic coating, such as what dentists use to repair human teeth.

If the blood loss has been severe and if the injury impedes eating or drinking, the bird might be hospitalized overnight for fluids, antibiotics, antifungals and pain care. 

Your best source of information about how to proceed with nutrition is your veterinarian. The bird might be on a soft food diet for a while, for a lifetime, or not at all. Some alternatives include mashed sweet potatoes, bananas, and even (human) baby food.

Recovery of Broken Beak in Birds

The primary components of recovery from a beak injury include watching the wires or cast for any changes, following the veterinarian’s eating plan, administering medication, allowing for healing time, and isolating the bird from other birds and animals. Most cracks or small injuries will simply grow out like a break in a fingernail. A beak doesn’t repair itself, or grow back together, but it usually will grow out. In some cases, the bird will never retain its former appearance, and could suffer disfigurement. Other birds may be on a soft food diet for the duration of its life, but otherwise will return to normal functioning.

Broken Beak Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Wobbles
Red crown amazon
6 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

broken beak

Medication Used

Meloxidyl
Enrofloxacin

Hello, I have a red crowned Amazon who broke his upper beak. I immediately too him to an emergency pet hospital where they stopped the bleeding and filed the beak down. They gave me antpibiotics to give him, and told me to feed him only Zupreem pellets. My only question is that he can't eat them. He shakes his head as if in pain if he tries to grab one. I crushed it and tried to syringe feed him, but he's not having it. He either growls at the syringe or runs away from it. Is there a more easier way to feed him? Also would he be fine drinking water out of his bowl? I don't want the water to hurt his wound?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Wobbles may need additional pain medication if he is showing that aversion to eating and handling. It would be best to call your veterinarian, let them know what is going on, and see if there is anything else that they can give him to make him comfortable enough to eat. I hope that he is okay.

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Romeo
African Grey Species
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

broken beak

My birds came home from boarding with a hole in his beak now it crack off! He didn't bleed at all but he keeps rubbing it that now some white shows. I call vets here & they don't do birds! I'm new to Jersey. Should boarding be responsible.what happened to him? He says its from rubbing his beak when asked?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Beak rubbing can be a sign of gastrointestinal illness, without examining Romeo I cannot say that this is the case or not; if you are new to an area I would recommend that you find an Avian Veterinarian to take a look at Romeo, the link below is to a directory which you can search to find a board certified Avian Veterinarian nearest to you.Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.aav.org/search/custom.asp?id=1803

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Parrot
Indian Ring-Necked Parakeet
8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Chewing

The lower beak of my parrot had an infection so it had to be operated
and more than 75 percent of the beak had to be removed and only a small portion of the beak is remaining on both the sides.
Now we have planned to provide him with a prosthesis and the vet suggested to screw the beak to the small stump which is left but I am not in favour of using screw so if you can help me suggest me some adhesive which can be used to glue the beak or an alternative method on how do we go about.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Veterinarians generally prefer screws in some cases as it would allow us to easily remove the beak if we needed to, adhesives which may seem like a good idea may fail or may not allow easy removal of the beak for an examination. There are many different surgical adhesives which may be used but a self-curing acrylic surgical glue (mostly used in dentistry) would be a good option, but you should discuss with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My baby budgie is 1-2weeks old. The mother attempted to kill this fellow but couldnt succeed. Now the upper beak is broken and head is fully wounded. Need a urgent suggestion.

Today my Ringneck parrot had broken my budgies beak and he is fine but i don't know how to feed him. he is unable to eat budgie seeds and just cant eat anything. please let me know of how to feed him...

Thank You for your help, I will surely discuss this with my Veterinarian

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Budgie
Budgerigar
1 Week
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

broken beak

What to do when a budgie's beak is broken? My 1 week little budgie got attacked by her mother. Now the beak is broken and little fellow cant eat or drink. What to do??!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Unfortunately, there are not any solutions for a broken beak in birds. If he isn't able to eat or drink, it may be kindest to have him euthanized so that he doesn't suffer. Your veterinarian will be able to examine him and determine the extent of his injury. I hope that everything goes okay for him.

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Parrot
Parrot
unsure
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

broken beak

Hi, my friends parrot's beak just broke and now its bleeding. We have no emergency vet but she can take him to one tomorrow. How can she stop the bleeding? The bleeding is quite severe, disinfecting alone does not help. I would like to get some advice on how to relieve the bleeding for tonite

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
This isn’t an emergency service and I see that you asked your question 15 hours ago (I answer all questions within 24 hours), but generally to stop a beak from bleeding you can try applying a ball of cotton which was soaked in ice cold water or apply some cornflour to the beak to help stop the bleeding. I hope by now you were able to visit your Veterinarian for an examination and to correct the problem. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Sammy
cockatiel
20 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Beak Loss
broken beak

My mother’s bird has been experiencing beak loss for awhile. He has been in a cage most of his life and in the last few years has basically refused to leave the cage. It appeared as though he was starting to loose his bottom beak for about the last 8-12 months. His top beak seems fine but now it seems as though his bottom beak is very reduced and is split it two and seems very loose and weak - he is now having trouble eating and a couple of times seemed to be struggling at the bottom of his cage. As he is an older bird I’m scared of agitating him too much. Do you have any recommendations? Should I try to transport him to the vet? Is there anything they could do? And if so, do you have any tips or something to give him that might calm him down enough that I could transport him there? Or do you think it would be best to just try to feed him soft formula?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Without seeing Sammy’s beak, I cannot say whether or not there is anything which may be done, your Veterinarian may be able to model or surgically glue the bottom beak together to make eating and drinking easier. Ideally you should visit an experienced Avian Veterinarian (see directory in link below) to get the best result for Sammy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.aav.org/search/custom.asp?id=1803

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Congo
African Grey Species
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Crying
Screaming
Disorientation
Bleeding

Medication Used

none

I have an African Grey who has been dizzy and erratic - jerky and has fallen off his cage and broken the tip of his upper beak off. He has done this before (Breaking the tip of his beak off but was fine after and it grew back), however this time he screamed and has been for days, isn't singing and when you feed him something he cries before he even bites it. He will eat, but it is constantly whining etc. I did get him Calcium and vitamin drops and new food to help with his erratic behavior, and he seems to be better and not so jerky but the beak and his pain is what i'm worried about. He started acting erratic and lost his balance a few days back, and he literally was in his cage and just fell off, then he ran up the side of the cage and fell off again almost like he did it intentionally. That is when his beak broke. You can still see some blood come out when he chews on things. Any advice other than take him to a vet, I know that the vet can put some type of super glue over the exposed nerve and that should fix his issue of pain at the moment, could they also give him some kind of pain reducer as well, or do they not give birds something like that to help? Any advice would be much appreciated and I am going to take him to the vet tommoorow if he doesn't get better by morning.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us about Congo - I'm sorry that he is having these problems. Unfortunately, there isn't much that you can do at home for him at this point, and he should go see his veterinarian as it does sound like he is in significant pain and can't eat as well as he should. His vet will want to prescribe something for his pain, for sure. I hope that he feels better and is eating normally again soon.

Today I noticed that my green cheeks lower peak is cracked from its pace , from its root or contact with skin .
It is still some how connected in the second half of it .Please tell me what can I do for it .

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Katey
Yellow Nape Amazon
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

She’s not showing symptoms

Hi! My Katy’s upper beak cracked towards the tip of her beak horizontally past the lower part of her bottom beak. It did have a little blood but it’s not bleeding any more. When I turn her to get a side view or profile view of her beak I can clearly see a small whole through it. Should I be worried or should I leave her alone and let it heal it’s self!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Beaks don't typically heal, and Katey may need medical help to repair the beak if it interferes with her eating or drinking, or seems painful. Without seeing her I can't say for sure if she needs to be seen, but with a traumatic injury like that, it is usually a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian to have it looked at.

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angel
Sun Conure
8 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

i dont know any of the symptoms

Me and my bird was playing around and i was tickling his belly and he bite me and i moved my finger our of the mouth after that i heard a crack like if some one broke a twig in half and now down the middle of the botton of its mouth has a crack through it. Should i take it to the vet or some i just keep it company?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
The fact that it is the lower beak makes things more complicated as birds will eat and drink they scoop up food and water with the lower beak, this may lead to other issues; you should definitely visit your Veterinarian (Avian Veterinarian if you have one near by) so they can examine the beak and determine a course of action to fix or fill the crack. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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