House Finch with Broken Beak

Like humans biting into something too hard for teeth to handle and finding themselves with a broken tooth; birds such as House Finches and Cardinals, with sharp-sided but thin upper beaks can break them by eating whatever is too hard.

To see perfectly beautiful and healthy birds die early deaths due to such dangerous things as whole kernel corn and kernels of corn ground into a material akin to shards of broken glass -- and then offered to the birds as food -- is sad.

If you feed wild birds and find whole kernels of corn or ground up kernels of corn in your feed mix, remove the pieces before placing the food into the feeders.  If possible, contact the manufacturer and tell them to never put corn in their wild mix bird seed.

When birds such as finches try to break open a kernal of corn or a small pebble (hoping it is food), the chances of breaking the upper mandible are high.  If the upper beak breaks, the bird will survive a few days, but available food is difficult if not impossible to shovel in.  Staying hydrated is also difficult. Then there is the problem of not being able to masticate food.

In short, the affected birds start to weaken and are unable to fly swiftly.  They become easy marks for hawks, falcons and other large birds such as Crows and Ravens.  When birds try to eat ground up shards of rock hard kernels of corn, the risk of choaking to death is high.

This photo was first published November 30, 2008 by City Birds.

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