As a young Northern Mockingbird found out earlier this year, sometimes the life of a bird in the wild can get a little complicated. Luckily for the feathered little gal, a Malibu organization called California Wildlife Center came to the rescue last March when she found herself suffering from a case of what veterinarians call “knuckling.” Though not a common condition, knuckling can cause serious problems for a bird, as it prevents their feet from opening normally so that they can stand or perch.
As the organization explains on their website, this “was causing the bird to have to stand on the tops of her toes which were curled under and causing her additional injury.”
Fortunately Lorraine Barbosa, a CWC staff veterinarian, came up with a solution that also happened to be unbearably adorable.
The vet went all shoe designer on the situation, constructing a pair of itty bitty “snowshoes” which were fitted around the bird’s ailing feet. Far from mere fashion accessories however, the shoes helped the mockingbird “retrain her feet to open and allow the injuries to her toes to heal.” By catching the deformation in the bird’s younger years, the team at CWC was able to use the shoes to help the chirpy little lady’s feet muscles and tendons relax and reform normally
After a mere week of sporting the tiny kicks, the team reported on their website that the Mockingbird’s feet were not only as good as new but are expected to stay that way permanently. During her office visit, the bird gratefully thanked her staff of caregivers by posing for a variety of insanely cute photos and was ready to be released back into the wild by April.
Check out the center’s website at cawildlife.org to see more of their grateful patients which range from foxes to sea lions to deer, oh my!
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