Blood Everywhere! Now what do you do?

A First Aid technique in hydrotherapy and clay poultice for wound management

If you’ve been caring for companion birds for any length of time, it’s surely happened to you. And, as the odds are typically stacked, blood related accidents usually at the most inopportune moment!  When it comes to discovering a parrot in a blood bath, there really is no opportune time is there?

Unfortunately, many avian caretakers sooner or later find themselves in this situation. And, unless your avian veterinarian lives next door, it’s better to be prepared and know what first aid method to utilize as soon as possible. Blood accidents can happen at any moment and it doesn’t matter if it’s a single bird or a pair of breeding birds. The thing to remember is to act quickly and calmly. First things first;

  1. Inspect the bird for source of wound or wounds.  You can do this with your practiced towel restraint method.  If the injury is from another bird, especially in cage mates, be sure to check the bird for injuries as well.
  2. After assembling your HARI Approved First Aid Arsenal, and finding the location of the injury, begin treating the injured bird with hydrotherapy techniques.

Why hydrotherapy??

Many of us automatically practice hydrotherapy when we experience a scrape or cut on ourselves. We run over to the sink and run water on or grab a wet cloth to sooth and wash away the blood. So why the fancy name?  Aside from  allowing a better view of the wound, running warm soothing water  removes dirt and debris.  The action of allowing running water to flow onto an injured site will naturally and painlessly remove the dead cells and dry blood from a wound. The movement of the water will also trigger in immediate cell tissue repair response, decrease inflammation and activate circulation and encourage vascularization. This increased blood flow carries nutrients to help repair the damage. In fact, hydrotherapy is beneficial for birds with challenges in skin conditions such as feather plucking and Amazon Foot Necrosis.  Be sure the water source is clean and of cool to warm temperatures.

Now-stop the blood flow!

Sometimes this easy-and sometimes it’s not!  Typical injuries on parrots, and especially finch species, for that matter are often difficult to bandage as traditional bandages are complicated to apply. And inevitably,   the patient, in an attempt to rid the foreign object, can complicate the severity of the injury or delay the healing process.

Here are some HARI suggestions to help …


Some wounds on birds are often challenging to keep bandaged as seen with the macaw that suffered a bloody injury just under the nail bed.  Traditional bandages are difficult to apply and the bird only tears them off-an instinctive action that complicates the injury and delays the healing process.

Treatment starts with Hydrotherapy and is then followed with clay poultice. Use cotton tip to apply the clay mixture.  The clay poultice will dry and promote the healing. If the bird picks at the clay “bandage”, ingestion of dried clay will be ok. Repeat hydrotherapy and clay poultice applications as often as necessary. Consult Avian Veterinarian if needed.

Stayed tuned for the next in our series on First Aid: Removing broken blood feathers.

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