Intramuscular Injections in Birds


Intramuscular or IM injections in birds are given into the pectoral muscle mass, which consists of superficial and deep pectoral muscles with a prominent fascial plane in between (Fig 1). The pectoral muscles are the only site recommended for IM injections in birds.

Intermuscular injection anatomy overlay

Figure 1. Superficial and deep pectoral muscle intramuscular injection anatomy overlay. Click on image to enlarge.



Video produced by Dr. M. Scott Echols and narrated by Dr. Susan Orosz.


Equipment needed

  • Short 25-30 gauge needle
  • Isopropyl alcohol (optional)


Step-by-step instructions

  • With the bird properly restrained, wipe the plumage away from the featherless tract along the ventral midline with isopropyl alcohol to expose the pectoral muscle mass.

Visit the LafeberVet videos (or text will images) illustrating Parrot Handling and Restraint as well as Passerine Handling and Restraint.

  • Avoid any visible, pre-existing muscle bruising or other lesions. Intramuscular injections are typically administered in the middle-third of the pectoral muscle mass and lateral to the keel that protrudes on the midline. Avoid the cranial portion of the pectorals because of the presence of a neurovascular bundle. Caudally, the underlying sternal bone thins to only fibrous connective tissue with the liver located below.
  • Insert the needle at an acute angle measuring less than 30 degrees into the superficial pectoral muscle.

    Intermuscular injection

    Figure 2. Insert the needle at an acute angle measuring less than 30º into the superficial pectoral muscle. Click on image to enlarge.

  • Aspirate back on the syringe as you would in any species, then administer the medication.

Visit the LafeberVet article Administration of Medication in Birds:  Injections for additional information on injections in the avian patient.

To cite this page:

Pollock C. Intramuscular injections in birds. December 9, 2010. LafeberVet Web site. Available at