have a special interest in raptor medicine
and surgery and full facilities to take care
of these special patients.
falconer vet for falconers – someone
who speaks YOUR language and is dedicated
and interested in your bird. Whether it is
a kestrel or an eagle, you can be assured
of the best care in the North West.
have everything from blocks to incubators
and are happy to provide advice over the phone.
has become the most reliable way of identifying
individual animals and this includes birds
of prey. Rings can become illegible or can
be taken off. Microchipping has two advantages:
it absolutely identifies an animal by a unique
number and it allows the animal to be returned
to its rightful owner if the animal has been
although not entirely foolproof, is simple,
reliable and inexpensive. In racehorses it
has been mandatory for years. All dog and
equine passports require the animal to be
identified by microchip.
Microchips are small transponders the size
of a rice grain. They are plastic coated and
hold a number consisting of 9,10 or 15 digit.
Some chips have a small silicone head with
holes in the head. This allows the body's
tissue to grow through the little holes, without
causing any sort of reaction, and this anchors
the microchip in the keel area. The old problem
of finding a microchip halfway down the bird's
body several years after microchipping is
are many different types of microchips. They
work, mostly, equally well, as long as the
chip is ISO 11784 (International Standard)
compliant. The ISO certification means that
the chip can be read in any country. This
is important when travelling over borders
with birds or when exporting/importing, so
that any customs agency can read the chip.
The microchipping procedure is as follows:
The bird is cast and held on its side. Usually
there is no need for sedation or anesthesia.
The bird is scanned looking for previously
implanted chips. Then the feathers over the
keel are parted and the microchip is implanted
with the use of an applicator. The applicator
essentially is a large needle with a handle
and a small rod that pushes the chip under
the skin once the tip of the needle has penetrated.
The preference these days is to microchip
subcutaneously (under the skin) and not into
the muscle. This is less painful and does
not cause any scarring or damage to the pectoral
muscles. We apply a small drop of tissue glue
to seal the hole in the skin made by the microchip
needle. This prevents the microchip popping
back out when the birds stands back up onto
the glove and flaps its wings. The bird is
then scanned again to confirm that the microchip
is reading ok. The entire procedure usually
takes less than thirty seconds.
Although the restraint period is brief, it
is stressful for the bird to be cast. The
microchipping needle is large and there is
some discomfort as the needle penetrates the
skin. Rejection of the chip, or infection
is a rare occurrence. Incorrect chipping procedure
is more likely to cause problems than the
occurrence of tumours has been documented
at chipping sites, especially in species like
cats which are more prone to fibrosarcoma
type tumours. In birds this has not been documented
– however far fewer birds than cats
have been microchipped, so that this is something
that will need monitoring into the future.
are stories of thieves removing microchips
from birds. It is difficult enough to locate
and remove microchips in a dead bird, in a
post mortem examinations. The scanner scans
quite a large field and the chip is difficult
to locate precisely. So although it is technically
possible to remove chips, it is not easy and
is likely to cause marked distress, bleeding
and scarring in a live bird.
The owner's details are then registered on
a database. These databases are administered
by various companies such as Identichip (Animalcare)
or Tracer (Bayer) or Backhome (Pfizer). After
the initial microchipping charge at the vets,
usually £15-£25, there is no other
charge. If you move house or want to change
any other details such as a telephone number,
there is usually a £5 administration
charge levied by the company in question.
At present it is not a requirement for birds
to be microchipped for import or export, but
it does make the paperwork a great deal easier.
There can be no argument over a worn number
on a ring, which you read as an '3' and the
DEFRA official interprets as an '8'. Following
equine and pet passports, there is no doubt
in my mind that microchipping will become
mandatory for any birds crossing borders in
the near future.
A bird belongs to the person in whose name
the microchip is registered. If you buy a
bird, ensure that you know the microchip number
and that the seller signs the change of ownership
form. Alternatively, ask the seller for a
letter, stating the bird's details (Name,
species, age, etc) including the microchip
number, stating that the bird is now legally
yours and that the seller agrees for you to
register the bird/microchip in your name.
Very often birds are sold, microchipped but
the microchip is never registered in the new
owner's name. The bird may be sold several
times. If you are the last buyer, and wish
to change the microchip into your name, it
becomes very difficult to prove that you legally
acquired the bird, and the bird remains the
legal property of the owner from several sales
the case of divorce, or a partnership break-up,
the bird is legally the property of the person
to whom the microchip is registered.
the other hand, if your bird was stolen or
lost, and it is found and scanned, you will
be quickly reunited with your bird as there
can be no discussion. You are the owner and
it does not matter for how long the finder
has had the bird in their care – they
do not have a claim upon the bird.
Remember to keep your details on the database
updated. Check the chip at least once a year.
There is a very low incidence of chips malfunctioning,
but it is best to check. And finally, microchips
cannot prevent theft. They can only serve
to identify the individual bird and it's registered