is one of the most common problems found in pet starlings.
I think it is directly linked to diet, especially a low iron softbill
Here is an example of a bird with this condition: Jake could no longer
fly, had terrible feather condition, and raised overgrown scales on his
feet and legs. He also had a red corn like sore on the bottom of one foot
and overgrown beak and nails. This is the classic presentation of Hyperkeratosis.
are some photos comparing a starling with symptoms of Hyperkeratosis to
a healthy starling.
thickened & overgrown due to Hyperkeratosis.
a healthy starling with a normal beak.
photo at left shows the foot of a starling who is suffering from hyperkeratosis.
Notice the drastically thickened scales and thick, overgrown nails. Poor
feather condition also accompanied the condition in this bird.
above photos show the legs and feet of a healthy starling. Unlike the bird
with hyperkeratosis, this bird has thin nails and smooth legs with tight
hyperkeratosis comes from hyper...abnormal excess, and keratin... the
outer layer of epidermal structures, such as hair, nails, horns and hoofs
(from the American Heritage Dictionary). In birds the leg and foot
scales, nails, feathers and beak are composed of keratin. Hyperkeratosis
is believed to be caused by a lack of Vitamin A which affects any cellular
structures such as skin, feathers, mucus membranes in the mouth and eyes,
and internal organs. Anyone who has read Arnie the Darling Starling
will be aware of the symptoms of Hyperkeratosis and Vitamin A deficiencies.
The needed amino acids
in the right amount:
All the softbill pellet diets are an excellent
source of Vitamin A, so you wouldnt expect
a bird to have a deficiency of something they
are getting in ample supply from their diet. Yet
most European Starlings on low iron softbill diets
usually have either Hyperkeratosis, seizures or
European Starlings are omnivores with a strong
leaning towards being insectivores. The softbill
pellets have reduced iron, and is made for fruit
eating birds such as Hill Mynahs and Toucans.
It has a protein content of around 18 percent,
European Starlings require a diet of between 30
and 32 percent protein. Without the needed amino
acids, in the right amount, from a complete protein
(animal protein) the body cannot utilize the fat-soluble
Vitamins A, D, E, and K, so even though these
vitamins are in the diet the bird will be deficient
in them. Some good animal protein foods, besides
the dog food mix would be: cottage cheese, hard
boiled egg, seafood, tuna and chicken (if canned
packed in water) crickets and other insects.
15 Month Old Starling with Leg Scale
the raised scales, even on the toes, and the thick toenails.
Same Starling as above at 18 Months Old
See how the leg and foot scales are thicker and are raised up even more.
View of the 18 Month Old Starling's Legs
The scales on the right leg are loosening at this point,
and the toenails are thicker.
1/2 Month Old Starling with Thickened Beak
18 1/2 Month Old Starling with Beak now Chipped in Thickened Area