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Birding/Crow -feet and legs

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crow\'s photo
crow's photo  
Hi Mr. Lederer,
We wrote to you a while back about a captive crow that we were told was not going to make it in the wild. At the time, he was missing almost all the feathers on one leg. Now, he's missing feathers on the other leg, too, and both his feet are missing some of the black protective covering. He's basically pink from the middle down. All else is well. He is acting happy, noisy, playful, he eats a lot, he loves to play. We are with him all the time and he is never in a cage. He has full access to the house and we watch him like a hawk. We cannot find a vet that will see him without taking him from us and we are unwilling to do this because we don't want him euthanized or sent somewhere to someone that doesn't have the willingness to keep him for his entire life.

His diet missed bugs for a while due to heat (they kept arriving dead). He also missed out on calcium and other vitamins off and on for a few months because we were trying other types of food that were "whole" and may not have included the right amounts.

The only strangeness we can think of is that he chipped off some dry wall a few times from an area we don't let him on any longer and we can't find the dry wall so we don't know if he ate it.

If its mites, we can't see them on white paper and we've sprayed him twice -not working. We have no idea what this is.

1. If we find the problem and fix it, will his feet and feathers get normal?

2. What could be the problem?

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR ALL YOUR HELP AND KINDNESS

Answer
Since he is chipping at drywall, it strikes me that he is lacking calcium in his diet. Little kids do that, too. It's a behavior called "pica". Give him some calcium rich foods and maybe a piece of soft marking chalk and see what happens. Let me know.

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Roger Lederer

Expertise

Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.

Experience

Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of Ornithology.com . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

Education/Credentials
PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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