Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and possibly your flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet

Head Injuries

Cranial Trauma

Head trauma is fairly common in ducks, occurring in multiple presentations and severity, from mild to life-threatening. Head injuries may be outwardly apparent by the presence of hemorrhaging, loss of tissue, and in many incidences, complete exposure of the brain. In other cases, the bird may not show any external evidence of a head injury, but will present with a wide range of temporary to permanent clinical signs of neurological impairment.


Blood at wound site
Bleeding from eyes, ears or mouth
Head tilting


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the duck from the rest of the flock, and place in a cool, dark environment (not a warm environment)
Administer short-term corticosteroidsprednisolone, dexamethasone (2 mg/kg IM, once)
IV fluidsindicated if the bird is in shock, given at 1/2 to 2/3 of the normal volume to prevent overhydration and cerebral edema.


  • Handle crested head ducks gently and avoid putting any pressure on their heads.
  • Minimize potential for injury



Risk Factors

  • Mixing chickens and ducks together
  • Overcrowding
  • Abrupt temperature changes