Sunday, April 1, 2012

Avian keratin disorder

Yesterday I went to the Montreal Botanical Gardens and photographed various birds and only when I got home and checked out this photo on the computer did I notice the strange beak on this crow.

Since then I have done a fair bit of reading on "avian keratin disorder" which has been seen mainly in Alaska and British Columbia in alarming numbers of North-western Crows and Black-capped Chickadees.  Other species are being affected as well and sometimes both the upper and lower parts of the beak are deformed and this can interfere with the bird's ability to eat.

I found a website where I could report this bird and send the photo.  It is a U.S. site which is gathering information to see how widespread this is in North America. 

There are theories that contaminants are responsible for this disorder but there is still more research to do to reach conclusive findings.

Here is a link for more information:


  1. It saddens me when I read, and see, things like this and wonder at just how much damage man has, and is, causing wildlife through pollution, etc. Flighty xx

  2. This is a bit distressing. Poor bird.

  3. I'm hoping that this bird can still eat (it looks healthy) but I have seen pictures of woodpeckers with beaks like hummingbirds! Some of the birds in the pictures had been captured so I am wondering if the beaks could be trimmed (like fingernails). Still - it is very disturbing and I wonder how many die without ever being observed.

  4. IS there treatment for this condition?

  5. That's a good question and I don't remember reading that on the Internet. However I have seen stories of prosthetic beaks being attached to birds whose beaks were somehow broken so maybe the opposite could be done where beaks are trimmed and then hopefully the bird could live normal life.