Angelo the Bateleur Eagle and his damaged beak
Meet Angelo, our adolescent Bateleur eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus). He is a typical teenager and has a knack for getting into trouble. This time he has managed to damage his beak.
The avian beak is an amazing structure that has been shaped by evolution to suit many dietary niches, helping the ancestors of modern species to adapt to new opportunities as they arose. A perfect example of this is the radiation of Darwin’s Finches in the Galápagos Islands – check out the website HERE to learn about these amazing examples of evolution.
Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) and Great Blue Touraco (Corythaeola cristata)
I got a call when a Keeper noticed that Angelo had a crack or chip to his beak. When trauma to the beak occurs we have to assess what structures have been damaged. The beak consists of the bone of the upper and lower jaw with keratin covering it.
The keratin grows continuously from the base to replace what is worn away and, if damaged, it will grow out with time. It is this continual growth that means beaks can become overgrown in captivity and require trimming if birds are not provided with the correct diet and environmental enrichment.
If trauma exposes the underlying bone it will cause pain and be at risk of infection, if the bone is fractured it will need surgically fixing just like other bones.
There are treatments I can prescribe for pain and infection, and bones can be secured until they heal.
However, on examination I found that thankfully Angelo had only chipped away some keratin from the tip of his beak, so other than a quick tickle no treatment was needed on this occasion.
Angelo enjoying a tickle!
A look back at when Angelo arrived in 2015 HERE