Emma The Survivor

Previously on Feathers, Fur and Scales…

I talked about the dangers of predator attacks in prey species such as birds.  I thought I’d present a success story.

Emma the Amazon

Emma was brought into our clinic after the owners found her injured in her cage.  She had been attacked by a very large predator (a cat, we discovered at a later date).  She had numerous wounds on her head and cheeks.  Her wing drooped.  There were puncture wounds and swelling on her body.  Worst of all, she wasn’t able to use her right leg.  It had been torn up pretty badly.  On the bright side, we weren’t able to feel any broken bones.


She was strong and responding to the initial treatment given by the ER so we anesthetized her for further examination, testing and wound repair.  The wound on her right thigh was extensive.  It required a great deal of work to identify damaged vs healthy tissue and close the skin where possible.  But she did extremely well!


The xray showed a broken wing bone.  Just like us, birds have 2 bones in the forearm.  The second bone (the ulna) is still whole and was acting like a splint.  Swelling around the fracture site made it impossible to feel the break.

Here it is on the first day – the red arrow points to the broken radius.  You can also see a catheter placed into the bone on the other arm for anesthesia support (green arrow).  The second xray was taken about 4 weeks later.  You can see the healing callus around the fracture.

broken wing            healing wing

Initially Emma wasn’t eating well so she had to stay in the hospital for fluid support and tube feedings.  She was on very strong antibiotics due to the severity of the wounds and the concern that a raccoon or large cat was involved.  After about 6 days she was released into her owner’s care.  They were able to continue the antibiotics and pain medications at home.

The wounds on Emma’s leg were very severe and while parts started to heal nicely, other parts did not.  The damage was much worse than originally thought.  Some of the muscle tissue that appeared healthy when she first came in wasn’t – it started to die and had to be removed.  The damage was so extensive that it was hard to close the skin over the wounds.  As Emma started to move around and be more active, she caused the sutures to tear out.  All and all, there were 3 surgeries on that leg before it healed!

Here are a few images of the leg during the healing process:

healing leg

sutured leg

healed leg

A few things strike me about Emma’s case:

The first is the length of time it took to fully heal – it took about 5 weeks for the tendon and ligament wounds to the wing to heal.  She had a very long lasting droop. But it eventually returned to normal.  It took another 3 weeks before she started talking again.  The prolonged healing just goes to show how much damage poor Emma had taken from that cat.  Emma was also on a seed-based or nutritionally deficient diet when it happened.  Luckily we were able to convert her to pellets after about 2 weeks!

The other issue is the lasting effects on Emma.  The bones in her head were damaged in the attack.  As a result, 4 months after we first met Emma, her beak started to show signs of abnormalities.  It is permanently askew and will require periodic beak trims for the rest of her life.

Here is Emma Today

Emma today

4 thoughts on “Emma The Survivor

  1. I found your blog when looking for images of Teflon stents used in cervical airsac emphysemas (that I found a very nice example in your blog, thank you!). I’ve just read a few of your posts now and I’m sure I’ll be reading more of it in the future!

    I’m a recent vet grad and exotics (specially birds) are my passion. I’m just curious about this post because I usually assess wing fractures with a VD x-ray, any reason why you shared a LL x-ray instead?

    Keep on posting, I’m looking forward to read more of your interesting cases!

    • Hi – I’m glad to hear you found my post. We had to do a lot of digging to find an example of using the stent in this fashion.

      Which post are you referring to regarding the LL xray? In general, the damaged body part should be placed closest to the xray plate to minimize distortion. So a left sided problem should have a left lateral view.

      Dr. M.

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