Homer is a nearly 9 year old female Sulphur Crested Cockatoo with a very distinctive face! Her upper beak doesn’t quite line up correctly with her lower beak. This can often be the result of an injury to the specific area where the hard surface of the beak grows out from the bird’s head.
Beaks grow in a very similar way to how our nails grow, and continue growing throughout life. When the upper beak and lower beak line up well, as in the majority of birds, normal chewing of food and branches will grind the tips of the beak down, allowing the ends of the beak to remain an effective length. When they don’t line up well, the ends of the beak will often overgrow, eventually leading to the point where the bird can find it difficult to use the beak for eating and for moving around.
Homer, like most birds with this condition, needs regular visits to the vet to trim the ends of the beak when they grow too long, and has been coming to us for this every few months for the last 2 years.
Recently, we thought that the back end of the beak on Homer’s left cheek seemed to be gradually growing more prominent, and we could feel a firm lump just under his ear opening. To check the lump properly, we took some x-rays of Homer’s head under a short general anaesthetic. As we had hoped, the bone structure of Homer’s head was normal, including the suspect area. It appears that the firm lump is just due to the twisted angle of Homer’s lower beak, and is normal for Homer.
Homer recovered very quickly from her anaesthetic and was back to her usual friendly self within half an hour. We look forward to seeing Homer again in a few months for her regular beak trim!