Bird Advice | Bird Microchipping
bird playing with toy

Microchipping Your Bird

Many birds are too small to be microchipped, but for larger birds, a microchip is a safe and permanent way of identification, and cannot be removed unlike a leg ring.

A microchip is a small electronic device about the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is inserted into your bird’s breast muscle, via a quick injection. Once inserted, a bird cannot feel the microchip and the special capsule around it means that it does not break down and is designed to last your pet’s lifetime.

The microchip is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner. Microchips do not store personal data – this is kept against the unique identification number on a secure database. If your bird is found and scanned, the microchip database is accessed online and the organisation that has your pet, for example a veterinary surgery, a rescue centre or the police, can use the number to find your details. You can then be contacted and your pet safely reunited with you.

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More about microchipping your bird

Microchipping of birds can be done depending on the size of your bird. The microchip is the size of a grain of rice, and for small species this would be too large. The cut off is usually around 100 grams, but each bird will be assessed individually. For larger birds such as parrots or many birds of prey, microchipping is a safe procedure. Microchipping of any bird should only be done by an avian (bird) vet – consult your avian vet for advice.
Unlike in cats, dogs and rabbits, bird microchips are placed in the breast muscle, instead of under the skin at the back of the neck. This means there is a slightly higher risk of bleeding, which is one of the reasons that small birds are not suitable for microchipping. The advantage of microchips being placed in the muscle is that they will not migrate, so are easily located by anyone scanning your bird. Chips here do not affect flight, and will not cause any discomfort after the initial implantation. One of the only birds not microchipped in the breast muscle is the penguin – penguins are microchipped under the skin at the back of the neck, just like cats and dogs!
The microchip is implanted using a large needle, which deposits the microchip into the muscle. To reduce the stress to the bird, this can be done under a light sedation – depending on your bird’s size and temperament, your avian vet will be able to advise if this is recommended for your bird.

If your bird is too small to be microchipped you can permanently identify them using a leg ring. This can have complications, including:

  • Risk of catching on the aviary, toys or furniture.
  • Dirt can build up under the ring, putting pressure on the leg and restricting blood supply.
  • Irritation due to the ring can cause birds to self-harm.
  • The identification number on the ring can wear off.

Giving your bird some form of permanent identification, however, is always recommended. If you do use a leg ring for your bird, we would recommend checking it regularly to make sure it is clean, fitting comfortably, and any numbers are clearly visible.