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Tail Guards

If a raptor is put in a small cage (for a variety of reasons including rest for a broken bone, neurologic problems, illness such as West Nile Virus, infections, etc) it has a tendency to break its tail feathers or get them dirty.  A tail guard made of a light weight plastic, in this case an old x-ray, is custom made and taped to the tail to prevent damage to the tail.

A raptor cannot be released with broken tail feathers as the tail is necessary for maneuvering.  Nor can it be released with a number of broken or missing flight feathers, which are obviously needed for flight.  If flight or tail feathers are broken we can wait for new ones to naturally be replaced as they go through molts, but it may take a couple years.  Or we can replace the feathers with a process called imping.

Thanks to Dr. Natalie Houser and Danielle SeCheverell, RVT for putting a tail guard on this Red Tail