Wing Wrap Placement in Birds

Introduction

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


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

Equipment needed

  • 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
Trim bandage material to the appropriate width as needed to prevent bunching.

Figure 1. Trim bandage material to the appropriate width as needed to prevent bunching. Click to enlarge

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Most conscious birds are bandaged while held upright. Birds can also be bandaged in dorsal or lateral recumbency.
  2. Place limbs in a functional position so that joints are arranged at natural angles (Fig 2). Use the normal limb as your guide.

    Anatomy overlay

    Figure 2. Place limbs in a functional position so that joints are arranged at natural angles. Click image to enlarge.

  3. Gather the flight feathers together for inclusion in the bandage (Fig 3).

    Gather primaries

    Figure 3. Gather the flight feathers together for inclusion in the bandage. Click to enlarge

  4. Wing wraps are also called figure-of-eight bandages because the bandage material follows a figure eight pattern:
    1. 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).
      Leading edge primaries

      Figure 4. The free end of a roll of bandage material is held under the leading edge of the primaries (large white arrow) through the axillary space up to the top of the wing (small black arrow). Click image to enlarge

      Leading edge primaries

      Figure 5. The free end of a roll of bandage material is held under the leading edge of the primaries up to the top of the wing. Click image to enlarge.

    2. Then bring the bandage material down, and around (Fig 6, Fig 7).
      Bandage material directed down

      Figure 6. The bandage material is then directed down (arrow). Click image to enlarge.

      Pass bandage material around the carpus

      Figure 7. Then pass bandage material around the carpus. Click image to enlarge.

    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
      A loop bandage material around and over the carpus

      Figure 8. A loop of bandage material is then wrapped around and over the carpus. Click image to enlarge.

      Loop bandage material around and over the carpus

      Figure 9. A loop of bandage material is then wrapped around and over the carpus. Click image to enlarge.

    6. Then direct the bandage roll through the axilla again thereby establishing the figure of eight pattern.
    7. 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).
    8. 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.
      Diagram of figure eight pattern

      Figure 10. A diagram illustrating the figure of eight pattern used to place a wing wrap. Provided by Dr. Scott Ford.

      Figure eight wrap diagram

      Figure 11. A diagram illustrating the figure of eight pattern used to place a wing wrap. Provided by Dr. Patrick Redig.

  5. 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.

  1. Center the “belly band” on the keel (Fig 12).
  2. Pass the tape or bandage material completely around the body once.
  3. Then circle the wrap around the dorsal surface of the injured wing incorporating the “belly band” into the wing wrap.
  4. 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.

    Belly band

    Figure 12. Center the “belly band” on the carina of the sternum or keel. Click image to enlarge.

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).

Distraction tabs

Figure 13. Distraction tabs of white tape can also serve to slow the speed at which the bandage is destroyed by large psittacine birds. Click image to enlarge.

Housing the wing wrap bird

House the bird with a wing wrap in a smooth-sided enclosure with low or no perches available.