You are here:

Birding/wild bird birth defects

Advertisement


Question
I wanted to find out if wild birds have birth defects. Case in point, a boat tailed grackle was in my yard, male, with a female as well. Both were foraging but then I noticed that the male kept sitting down. He was full grown. When he stood up he only had one leg. So I thought he had an injured leg, but on keeping an eye on him there was no other leg there. I thought I was seeing things but when he noticed me, the female flew off and he flew on the fence, tried to balance and ended up laying on the fence and then eventually flew off. He didn't look like a juvenile, because he was fully feather, dark black and the female with him didn't seem to be trying to feed him. Ever hear of something like this?

Answer
James, no doubt birds exhibit birth defects but it is much more likely that the bird lost its leg somehow. Birds with missing toes or parts of legs or entire legs are not uncommon. A cat, rat, squirrel, mouse trap, fence, or something else caused it to lose its leg. I've seen hundreds of birds over the years with missing leg parts.  

Birding

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


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

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.