A Kereru chick with “splayed leg syndrome”. A nest with two kereru chicks had become dislodged during a storm in Whitianga. One nestling had died and the surviving one was brought to Kuaotunu Bird Rescue.
Feeding 4x daily with a special rearing mix (formulated with quality protein, also used to feed Kakapo chicks), which was hard to source and was kindly donated by Oxford Bird Rescue Centre.
After a few days we noticed the chick wasn’t able to use it legs and bear weight. Greg Stanaway at Peninsula Vets spent hours in the weekend figuring out how to get perfect x-ray settings for such a tiny creature (what dedication!).
Injuries to the spine or pelvis were ruled out. Splayed leg is an indicator that something might have gone wrong during incubation. A fertilized egg has very specific heat and humidity requirements in order for the chick inside to develop correctly. If one of those conditions is interrupted, a chick can hatch with splayed leg - its leg muscles are not developed enough for it to stand without help. Sometimes the problem can also be caused by the mother bird sitting on the chick too heavily.
Annemieke fabricated a little hammock so the chick could dangle its legs for better circulation and hopefully regain strength. Although it was growing (and oh so adorable) it didn’t show any improvement in standing. Without a chance to survive on its own the decision to euthanize was made to prevent it from suffering.