- Associated Press - Thursday, May 1, 2014

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - A Chicago veterinarian who specializes in birds has made one of his biannual visits to Burlington, conducting routine exams that include beak trimming.

Scott McDonald was booked solid Wednesday as he visited Horse and Hound, an animal specialty store. He saw about 60 birds within 11 hours, the Burlington Hawk Eye reported (http://bit.ly/1iNngvF ).

Bird owners in the area depend on McDonald’s visits. He usually does exams that include trimming a bird’s nails and beak.

“Most of the birds that are brought in are healthy, so they’re brought in for routine physical exams,” he said.

On Wednesday, McDonald rendered a rainbow-colored parrot named Hanky Panky unconscious for the exam. He carefully placed the bird’s head into a tube filled with sleeping gas.

“That’s one of the things I do that a regular vet doesn’t do, is sedate them with gas so they can relax,” he said. “It’s less stressful on me and the bird, and I can do a better job.”

McDonald can also place a microchip inside a bird or identify its gender.

“What’s unique about birds compared to mammals is that their sex organs are in their belly, so you can’t look between their legs,” he said.

McDonald has been a veterinarian for 37 years. He takes his mobile practice around the country every year, and was in Des Moines on Tuesday.

“I kind of cater to people who live in areas where there aren’t local bird vets,” he said. “If you have a bird that needs a lot of attention, there aren’t a lot of options, because there aren’t a lot of people who specialize in that.”

Pet birds are popular, according to McDonald. He said he treats just as many birds today as he did when he started in the field.

“They’re long-lived,” he said. “A dog or cat will usually be dead after 10 or 15 years, but the bird I’m going to work on (Hanky Panky) has the potential to live for 50 to 75 years.”

___

Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com