Beak Loss in a Cockatiel

Hi guys, i have a 9 week old cockatiel here that a parrot bit off the top beak, pretty close right up to the cere. I stopped the bleeding (this happened last night), and brought the baby straight to the vet. It is bad. He was not in shock which was the good thing, it was my baby that i handfed and he wanted to be cuddled and give kisses, and he is stretching his wings, i never cried so hard.

The vet gave me some anti biotics called Sulfatrim, i looked in all my books and notes and cannot find it. As you all know i am new to the holistic approach and just learning so i didn’t want to mess around with the herbs because i am not to sure of them. This morning he is taking the syringe and formula very well and i put him in a fish tank with heat and water and babyfood in the tank. He is trying to pick up stuff with his beak to. Last night i gave him some St. Johns wort, my notes say that it promotes healing and realives pain, but takes time. I do so need help here, what should i be using????? The tiels tongue is in the open. I know now i will have a handicap bird and thats ok, i will love him and spoil him rotten. I am also going to order some Harrisons pellets because i don’t think he will ever eat seeds unless i can get some already deseeded. Any advice out there for this poor little guy????? Oh yeah, i am also putting some ben-a-bac in the formula to keep the good bacteria going. Helena

Hi Helena, The little guy won’t be able to crunch up pellets or seeds without the upper mandible. He can eat anything he can scoop up and swallow like: pureed vegetables (baby food style), Cooked whole grain cereals (like oatmeal, cream of wheat, corn grits, millet, amaranth, quinoa, etc). It won’t be a bad diet, you will just have to supply it three to four times a day because it will grow bacteria quickly. Sorry about your baby. Sounds like you are doing a good job.

In addition to the St. John’s Wort (use only for two or three days) I’d use garlic, probiotics, vitamin C (vit C long term helps in the production of collagen…maybe that beak will regeneate a little), Aloe vera applied externally will also help soothe it.

Comfrey externally will be good if you can insure that the bird doesn’t swallow it. Comfrey will close and heal the wound quickly. It isn’t recommended for deep wounds because it will heal over the surface too fast. It would be great for this type of wound, though.

take care, gloria

From: helena  What about the pellets soaked in juice??? I know that won’t be able to stay out for long to. Now with the confrey, how do i prepare it???? Helena  Hi Helena, You could mix the comfrey with aloe and make a paste of it. Anyone else have an idea? The pellets, if mixed with water might soften up enough to be swallowed….I don’t know. You’ll have to try. Usually birds grind the pellets up against the upper mandible before swallowing.

Personally, I’m not crazy about fruit juices because they are mostly sugar….refined sugar at that. Whole fruit or pureed whole fruit contains the nutrition from fruit.

If you soak pellets in fruit juice you are encouraging a yeast infection. Yeast thrives on sugar. So do many bacteria. If you are going to soak pellets, soak them in water. I used to do that for weaning babies, but noticed that some pellets were so hard and water resistant that they never really softened.

Since this is a cockatiel and we have already established that cockatiels do not do well on pellets, I would forget them altogether. Grind unhulled seeds into a powder for him and feed him pureed veggies/greens/fruits and cooked whole grain cereals. Add a little wheatgrass powder with sea vegetable for extra vitamins and trace minerals. You can vary the vegetables, greens, and fruits. Cockatiels aren’t great fruit eaters, but their natural diet does include some berries. (According to Forshaw.)


From: Cindy The same thing happened to one of my Senegals, but it was done by a male breeder.

I took her right away to the University of Florida Vet Clinic it was still hanging on by a corner, so they did surgery and wired it back on. It eventually fell off. I fed her moistened pellets which she managed very well by using her tongue against the roof of her mouth. She also ate cooked rice, pasta, peas, corn, carrots and other veggies in this way. She has a little piece of beak that has grown and she is now able to eat dry pellets. So do not give up hope

Helena, my female does not even know she is handicapped. She is in a cage with a very sweet male and if he has a peanut she wants one too. So i take off the shell and the skin and give her little pieces she does real well. I kept her with the male so that he can help her with her preening. I only used water on the pellets to moisten them. Cindy

From: “Leanne Burton” I wouldn’t suggest it being a major portion of his diet, but Harrisons does make a ‘mash’ formula. Meaning, instead of pellets, it is a powder. Harrisons suggests for a Lori diet to soak the pellets. Also, you can find already hulled millet, sunflower & safflower at most health food stores, although you may have to chop the big ones into small pieces. Consider getting a coffee grinder just for food for this little guy, you could grind up pellets, nuts, seeds & grains. If you have a juicer, you can make your own baby food out of any fruit/veggie you wanted to. The fresh juice from a juicer (within 10 minutes, I think is the guideline) would be nutritious to mix with dry foods and not invite a yeast infection since it would be all natural. Also consider soaking grains for a long time instead of cooking them, to preserve more nutrition. Dr McCluggage suggested soaking, except for brown rice, which he says can be cooked.

Dr McCluggage’s book also suggests that small amounts (a few pieces every couple of weeks) of grit can be helpful, stating: “many birds have markedly improved their digestion and health” when grit is added to their diet (p. 74). I would think for this little guy, since he can’t break things up with his beak, it might be helpful just in case.


From: “Susanne Russo” Helena,

Is there alittle of the beak left at all below the cere? Many times the *nail* (outer covering) part of the beak will be ripped off to the cere, but a little bit of the core/vein area will remain. If there is a little bit of area left you have a 50/50 chance of the beak regrowing.

Did your vet give him anything for blood loss and stress…such as B-complex. I’d try to get some B-complex into the little guy.

I had a cockatiel several months ago where the whole upper beak was ripped off. The first few days try and keep it clean until it crusts/scabs over real good. At the time I had some calendula salve and added a drop of comfrey tincture to it, and applied it twice a day for the first day, and once a day each day until the area crusted/scabbed over…then I left it alone. It is going to take several months for the upper beak to grow in. The lower beak will rapidly grow and curve upwards. You will have to keep this trimmed every few weeks. I use a nail clippers, taking care to clip to form the *V* notch that is in the lower beak.

I can take a digital picture of a month old baby that had his beak bitten off while hatching. He was trapped and dry in the egg and Sandie and One Spot (parents) tried to get him out and bit off the tip of the right wing and the upper beak off close to the cere. Like yours he did not act traumatized or in shock. The parents could not feed him…so I left him in the nest and handfed him while in the nest. I pulled him at about 2 weeks old. His upper beak is just starting to grow alittle. I need to trim his lower beak…so maybe I can post a pix of before the trim and after the trim.

As to eating…surprisingly they learn how to adapt and crack seed. Several years ago I had some 3 week old babies in the nest and they were *pumping* on each others beak…and one had the upper beak ripped off…with just a little of the quick below the cere remaining. I pulled to handfed and at about nine week he was eating spray millet, and using his tongue to manipulate it towards the back part of the beak where it hinged. Later on he figured out how to crack sunflower. The upper beak never fully grew all the way in….only halfway…to where the notched area is in the upper beak.

Since he is still being handfed…continue to handfeed him. Since he has not been weaned or fully eating on his own he will learn to adapt. Offer him a variety of both soft foods, and the smaller seeds. I mix finch and canary seed in with my cockatiel seed…this is easier to crack. And as he learns how to manipulate/crack these he’ll try larger seed.


From: helena It looks like there is just alittle left. The vet said it may or may not grow, he also said that it could be deformed, He didn’t loose that much blood and the vet was getting a intervenus (sp?) ready for him (called and told him i was on my way), but said he was shocked that the bird did not need it, he was very alert, stretching his wings, tweeping and all. I was kinda shocked that he didn’t do much but that was ok, i am taking care of him with everyone’s help. I just picked up some stuff called Herbal eds salve. the lady at the hfs used to raise birds and was a wonderful help, she didn’t look at me like i was crazy that all this was for a bird like most do. In that salve there is comfrey root, calendula flower, plantain lef, chickweed herb, mullein leaf, st.john’s wort flower and bud, in a base of olive oil, bee’s wax and bee propolis, and i will put that on his beak gently with a q-tip. I also got some vit. c, arnica tablets, and some rescue remedy. How does all that sound. Then of course i have the ben-a-bac and the anti-biotics. I will help this little baby no matter what, even if it comes down to handfeeding, As to the not acting tramatized or in shock, is that ok??? I mean, maybe he is not showing it but he really is. Do you think he is in terrible pain???? He does not act it. I think maybe i am in more pain then he. He is looking all over with his eyes and his beak, touching everything, i think he is looking for the seeds and the millet. I will believe that in his future he will do well. Not sure of the sunflower seeds though, only time will tell. I should wait till the beak is alot more healed then it is now to offer him the seeds right??? I have babyfood in the fish tank right now. Thank you Susanne, I once again am learning from you. Helena

From: Mike Owen I have had some experience with beak loss in a variety of birds, and from what you have said, I think there is a good chance that the beak may grow back. It may be a bit deformed, but sometimes, provided the “root” of the beak is undamaged, there will eventually be no sign of the bird’s injury. We had a Mulga parrot once that lost almost all it’s top beak through fighting with an Alexandrine, and eventually it grew back just fine – took over 6 months though.

We also had a SC2 bought into our shop once which had no top beak at all. It had been ripped out completely by a dog, but by the time we were given the bird, it had healed up completely. That bird coped amazingly well. We fed lots of sprouted seed, vegies and fruit and it managed extremely well. He would play with seed, and did swallowed a reasonable amount, but was unable to hull it.

Because we allow all our birds access to grit, the seed was sufficiently ground up in the gizzard to be digested. >From the sounds of it I am sure that your little cockatiel is in no pain at all, and certainly is not in any shock. At his age he will adapt very quickly to the absence of a beak, so that even if he doesn’t grow his beak back fully he will still be a happy contented little bird.

I might add that my policy with such injuries is to do nothing at all after the initial clean-up, except a possible short antibiotic course. I have never liked the idea of putting any sort of ointment on the tip of the beak, not only will the bird potentially be stressed by the handling and touching of what will be a sensitive area, but the bird will also probably swallow at least some of the ointment. cheers, Mike Owen Queensland