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There is a lot of confusion when it comes to a talk about a bird's legs
or feet. Since the anatomy of a bird differs from the human anatomy,
many people confuse the bones and ankles. And also some people tend to
talk about a claw meaning the whole toe - but in fact the claw is just
a part of a bird's toe as you will see further below. So in case you
want to describe an injury it is very important to be familiar with a
bird's anatomy. Reading this chapter of Birds Online can prevent
mistakes and typical misunderstandings.
Let's start with the lower part of a bird's lower extremity. The illustration on the right shows parts of a budgie's legs and feet. One can see the tarsus (1). This is a bone that is located between the shank and the foot with its four toes (2). In Germany most budgies wear a leg band which is placed around the tarsus. And now have a closer look at the toes and their characteristic position: Two of them face backwards and two into the other direction; this toe arrangement can be found in all parrot species and it's called zygodactyl. This toe arrangement is the reason for the high skills in climbing that is typical for parrots and it also enables the birds to grip things such as branches and food.
Each toe consists of several bones; their arrangement is roughly comparable to human toes. On the tip of each toe there is a claw or nail (3), also-called toe nail. Unlike our toe nails, a bird's claw is partly perfused. The right figure below this paragraph shows the position of the blood vessel inside a budgie's nail. If it is necessary to trim a bird's toe nails, it is very important to prevent any injury of this blood vessel. Hurting it can lead to a severe bleeding which could even kill the bird in the worst case.
Depending on the colour variety and the shade of the plumage, the nails of budgies are coloured from a transparent bright brown to nearly black. The darker they are, the harder it is to see the blood vessels.
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