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Interested in Prosthetics for birds?

   Frequently Asked Questions

How are prosthetics done?
In layman's terms prosthetic beaks are made by inserting pins into the bone of the existing beak and a wire frame is made.  It is then covered by an epoxy or a dental acrylic material and shaped. Leg prosthetics are a bit trickier and can take lots of trial and error and fittings to be done properly. Usually we start with a model of the good leg or foot and work from there.

Do you have more birds needing a prosthetic?
YES!  We have several birds waiting for a sponsor to cover the cost of the procedure. If you would like to sponsor a bird please email us waterfowlrescue@aol.com

I have been told prosthetics cant be done on birds?
We have been successfully doing prosthetics on birds for many years. Emily was one of our first and died of old age with her original prosthesis on.

I have a bird who needs a prosthetic where do I start?
 Our veterinarian Dr Burkett is located in Durham, NC and sees patients from all over the country  who need prosthetics. If visiting Durham, NC is not an option for you The first step is to find a qualified Avian Vet near you who can do the surgery.  If they have questions they can contact us or Dr Burkett directly.

Why cant I do a prosthetic at home or do it myself?
Beak prosthetics require pins be placed into the bone and absolutely should never be done without anesthesia or by anyone but an experienced veterinarian.  At CWR, we have a lot of experience working with birds and we would never attempt to do this without Dr Burkett's assistance.  Don't try this at home folks! 

If you have a bird missing a leg or a foot you can fiddle around with taping or splinting a temporary prosthetic to the leg but for a permanent long term attachment you will need to help of an veterinarian.

How much is a prosthetic going to cost?
That is a really difficult question to answer since each one is completely different and every veterinarian has a different fee schedule.  Our experience is that the range could run from $800 dollars to $1500 or more. 

Can I release a bird with a prosthetic?
No we wouldn't recommend it. Birds need to be monitored for potential problems and will need annual exams and patching repairs.

How hard is it to keep up with the prosthetics?
Initially there is some work involved in monitoring their eating and checking for infection.  Many birds wake up from surgery and immediately begin to use their beaks!  Some take a few days to adjust but all of our patients have been completely adjusted and eating well with a weeks time.

 We check birds every 6 months but maintenance is generally done annually.  You always want to monitor for infection but also for loose pins etc.  We generally have to do some patching every  6 months to a year or so as the beak naturally wears down.  You also have to cope/shape the opposing mandible as the other side wont wear down natually.

Do you do 3D printing legs/prosthetics?
We have seen these and its something we may consider for the future. There is a lot of promise in 3D printing to make prosthetics so we plan to stay abreast of the advancements in technology. At some point we may consider doing them but right now several other places are working out the bugs in these and there is no point in duplicating efforts.  We are excited to see what the future holds for 3D printing to help animals!
  Want to help?

 Donations are always needed and appreciated!  With regular donors patients wont have to wait for a sponsor to have this life altering work done.  No amount is too small!

Are you a veterinarian or dental professional who would like to contribute your time, talents or supplies to our work?  Email us for more information

If you are interested in consulting with Dr Burkett please contact his office directly via his website http://www.thebirdvet.com

  News Stories
There has been a lot of news lately about our work with prosthetics here are some of the stories.

PBS to feature Indian Trail group that helped swan get prosthetic beak

Rescue group helping birds get their waddle back

Goose fitted with prosthetic foot

Article in Todays Charlotte Woman Magazine

Carolina Impact Show



Some of our Prosthetics Patients
Sitara the Mute Swan gets a prosthetic beak on the show "Bionic Pets"
Donald our Crow with a prosthetic beak, the finished product looks pretty good!
for more info on his procedure click here


Cosmo the goose gets a kiss and a new leg from Dr Burkett. To read more about Cosmos leg and see photos click here.

Norton gets a new beak and a new life.  He met the love of his life, got adopted to a new home and the surgery has completely changed his entire quality of life. Thanks to the Stanga's for sponsoring Nortons surgery!

Miss Emily Duckinson lost her beak to a predator while trying to defend her newborn babies.  She died of old age with her original prosthetic on.


Bobo was taken to Carolina Wildlife Care and they funded a prosthetic beak done by Dr Burkett.  He is a permanent resident of CWR now.
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