Adapted from an article written by Chrisy Clay for the Ballina Shire Advocate
It’s not every day a dentist is asked to help repair a wild bird’s beak, but that’s just what was asked of Dr Kim Davies of Bytes Dental (Ballina). Approached by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers, Kim didn’t hesitate to lend a hand to repair the Lorikeet’s broken beak.
The Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, nicknamed “Beaky-Bill”, was rescued after flying into a window at Alstonville, unfortunately sustaining a significant fracture to the top part of its beak from the collision.
Beak fractures are not a common injury in wild birds, and there were concerns that the bird may lose a significant portion of its top beak.
Lorikeets are primarily nectar feeders, using lots of extremely fine hairs on the tip of their tongues to collect nectar from flowers. Without a top beak its nectar-gathering tongue would be permanently exposed, drying out its unique brush-like tip. If the Lorikeet’s tongue was damaged, it potentially wouldn’t be able to gather enough food and would eventually starve to death in the wild.
As superglue is extremely toxic and potentially lethal to such a small bird, dental cement was the only option left and Bytes Dental donated the necessary cement as well as equipment for setting the product.
Dr Ray Austin from Keen Street Veterinary Clinic (Lismore) used the dental cement to fix the bird’s broken beak under anaesthesia. The outcome was extremely positive. The dental cement realigned the beak and gave it the strength necessary for the Lorikeet to feed and climb in the wild. As “Beaky-Bill” was a juvenile, it is hoped that the damaged portion of its beak will eventually grow out and be replaced by a healthy strong beak. In the meantime the dental cement will keep the beak together and allow it to feed naturally.
After two weeks recovery in a flight aviary, the Lorikeet was returned to Alstonville, hopefully a little bit wiser to the perils of windows. Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers would like to thank Bytes Dental and Keen Street Veterinary Clinic for their assistance in giving “Beaky-Bill” a second chance at life.