Foot deformation in wild birds

Subject: Foot deformation in wild birds
From: Milburns <>
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 16:24:35 +1000
I have seen growths up to the size of a golf ball on the feet of seabirds, which are smooth, soft and appear to be tumours. I have seen this mostly in Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, probably because I handle about 1000 individuals per annum, the rate of incidence of obvious growths is about 0.1%. I have seen similar protuberances on the feet of albatross, gulls, terns and shorebirds but cannot make an estimate of frequency in these latter instances.

Currently, there is a male Magpie Lark on the grassy quadrangle behind Melville Hall with a growth on its right foot.

The key point is that affected individuals are infrequent and that makes the presence of such a growth on the foot of an individual that is the first record of its species for Australia highly unlikely. Which ever way one looks at it, the occurrence of a Grey-headed Lapwing with an extremely deformed foot at Burren Junction is a remote possibility and it is a matter of opinion which scenario is most likely.

PJ Milburn
The Milburns
42 Bundey Street
ACT 2615

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