Tiny Mockingbird Outfitted With ‘Snowshoes’ To Help Her Walk

The bird was brought into the California Wildlife Center with severely "knuckled" toes.

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The Northern Mockingbird had a severe case of knuckling, where the toes curl up, making it unable for the bird to walk or perch. The bird was outfitted with “snowshoes” to fix the knuckling. Via Dr. Lorraine Barbosa/Facebook
John Virata

A small Northern Mockingbird was brought into the California Wildlife Center in Malibu, California, with feet that looked deformed, making it difficult for the cute little bird to walk. According to veterinary staff at the center, the bird couldn’t stand or even perch, which is critical to survival in the wild.

The Northern Mockingbird’s knuckled toes. Via Dr. Lorraine Barbosa/Facebook

The Northern Mockingbird’s knuckled toes. Via Dr. Lorraine Barbosa/Facebook

So, to fix the knuckling of the tiny bird’s feet and toes, the center’s veterinarian, Dr. Lorraine Barbosa, created little “snowshoes” for her feet, spreading her toes in a walking position and taping them to the shoes. The forced position of her toes helped to retrain her feet to open and enabled her injuries to heal.

Barbosa wrote on the California Wildlife Center’s website that the bird was outfitted with the snowshoes for a week.

"Snowshoes" were taped to her feet with her toes spread to correct them. Via Dr. Lorraine Barbosa/Facebook

“Snowshoes” were taped to her feet with her toes spread to correct them. Via Dr. Lorraine Barbosa/Facebook

“We will generally keep the shoes on for 5-7 days (depending on the severity of the knuckling) then remove them and see if the bird maintains its digits in correct positioning without the shoes,” Barbosa wrote on the website in response to a question regarding the treatment. “If it does, we leave them off and recheck daily for the next few days in a row to make sure they stay that way.”

Barbosa said birds handle the shoes quite well and walk normally when they were on. The little Northern Mockingbird, snowshoe-free, is well on her way to recovery and will hopefully be released soon.

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