Injured Wagtail

Today I stumbled (excuse the pun) upon an unfortunate male pied wagtail that appeared to be in difficulty, limping and hopping on one leg.


At first glance I thought it may just be resting with a leg tucked up, as many birds will do, but as it moved around it soon became clear that this wagtail was actually suffering with a serious injury.


Warning: Graphic content below

As the bird lowered the foot in an attempt to walk the true extent of the damage was revealed.

The foot is visibly swollen and infected, having turned an unpleasant orange colour. It will certainly be causing the bird at lot of pain and must be a hindrance since it cannot bear weight and often seemed to get in the way.

Scratching awkwardly with the injured foot, whist standing on the good leg
Swollen left foot

A common cause of leg injuries in wild birds is by entanglement, caused when fibres become entangled around the leg. This can be caused by string, fishing line and even human hair(!).  Eventually these fibres can tighten around the leg to the point where the blood supply is cut off and the limb will died and fall off.

The wagtail kept looking at the foot as though it was causing pain

The chances of this wagtail surviving are slim. With only one working leg it is vulnerable to predators on the ground and the infection in the foot may spread to the rest of the body, weakening it until it dies.

In the meantime it still seems healthy, able to feed and catch insects whilst hopping across the ground on it’s good leg. Whether it can make it through the tough winter ahead, only time will tell…

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 ©

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