Just as humans face challenges as they get older, birds develop common conditions as they age. Females can become ‘egg bound’ when they are no longer able to pass an egg naturally. In such an event, immediate medical assistance or surgery is necessary to save the bird’s life by removing the egg. Another age-related problem common to birds is the development of kidney failure and subsequently gout. In order to treat this, human prescriptions for gout are modified and used with excellent results.
The National Aviary has a Teaching Hospital where pre-veterinary and veterinary technician students can train. The students directly care for the birds in the Geriatric Care Program. These senior birds require extra nursing care and provide the students with invaluable experience in avian medicine. The Aviary visitors also get a chance to meet the senior birds. Every day there is a Meet a Patient program where a bird in the geriatric Care Program is introduced to the visitors. This is an excellent opportunity for every visitor to get close to a bird and learn about the behind-the scenes care of senior birds.