Wing injuries may present as a wing droop or an inability to fly. The figure-of-eight bandage or wing wrap is the standard method for stabilizing the wing short-term.
General anesthesia typically makes wrap placement much easier, and if a fracture is present anesthesia is strongly recommended. If the bird is not strong enough for general anesthesia, remember that orthopedic injuries are rarely a matter of life or death. Always stabilize the patient first, providing analgesia and supportive care.
Video produced by Dr. M. Scott Echols and narrated by Dr. Susan Orosz.
- Bandage material of appropriate size (Fig 1)
- Bandage scissors
- Optional:duct tape or elastic tape (Elastikon, Johnson & Johnson) for the protective layer in large parrots
- General anesthesia is optional but strongly recommended for birds with fracture or luxation
- Most conscious birds are bandaged while held upright. Birds can also be bandaged in dorsal or lateral recumbency.
- Place limbs in a functional position so that joints are arranged at natural angles (Fig 2). Use the normal limb as your guide.
- Gather the flight feathers together for inclusion in the bandage (Fig 3).
- Wing wraps are also called figure-of-eight bandages because the bandage material follows a figure eight pattern:
- Grasp the free end of a roll of bandage material under the leading edge of the primaries. Then bring the bandage material through the axillary space up to the top of the wing… (Fig 4, Fig 5).
- Then bring the bandage material down, and around (Fig 6, Fig 7).
- Direct bandage material from inside to outside over the top of the wing (over the dorsal surface of the wing). This will roll the wing inward, which will encourage the wing to lie flat against the body wall.
- Be sure the bandage stays high; avoid covering the elbow. Placing bandage material too close to the elbow puts direct pressure on, and can even damage, the propatagial tendon, leading to wing contracture.
- As bandage material is brought around a second time, bring the material around the front of the wing instead of passing through the axilla. Loosely place a loop of bandage material around and over the carpus (Fig 8, Fig 9).
- Then direct the bandage roll through the axilla again thereby establishing the figure of eight pattern.
- Alternate bandage material in front and behind the wing until the wing has been secured into position. Continue this figure of eight pattern for two to three passes balancing weight with the amount of support needed (Fig 10, Fig 11).
- Repeat this process with the next layer of bandage material. Multiple layers are generally only placed in larger birds (> 750 grams). If two layers of bandage material are used, ensure the gauze layer is completely covered by the outer layer.
- After the wrap is in place, the wing should be held in a normal resting position (Fig 9). Improperly placed bandages will result in persistent evidence of discomfort and should be adjusted as needed.
To immobilize the shoulder…
To immobilize the shoulder joint, pass a body wrap or “belly band” around the body.
- Center the “belly band” on the keel (Fig 12).
- Pass the tape or bandage material completely around the body once.
- Then circle the wrap around the dorsal surface of the injured wing incorporating the “belly band” into the wing wrap.
- Make sure one or two fingers can easily slip underneath the body wrap as a tight “belly band” can reduce sternal motion thereby compromising respiration.
Protect the bandage
Larger parrots require a protective or “chew layer” of tape, such as duct tape or elastic tape (Elastikon, Johnson & Johnson), which slows down the speed at which the bandage is destroyed. Distraction tabs will also help to protect the bandage (Fig 13).
Housing the wing wrap bird
House the bird with a wing wrap in a smooth-sided enclosure with low or no perches available.
Pollock C. Wing wrap placement in birds. LafeberVet website. July 23, 2014. Available at https://lafeber.com/vet/wing-wrap-placement-in-birds/