Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre making special shoes for injured Sunshine Coast birds
When male magpie Birkenstock was brought into the Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on the Sunshine Coast after a suspected car strike, his left foot was curled tight.
"It was just all clenched up and couldn't open," veterinarian Claude Lacasse said.
"I did some X-rays and there were no fractures but it could have been an old injury."
Ms Lacasse knew in that moment it was time to get crafty.
Using a method she had developed over the years, she carefully constructed a special sandal out of splint material and tape and gently prepared Birkenstock for a fitting.
"We anaesthetise the birds" Ms Lacasse said.
"It's easier when they're not wiggling.
"We just do a fitting while the bird is sleeping and he wakes up with his new shoe."
Ms Lacasse said a vet nurse at the RSPCA animal care centre named the bird Birkenstock when he was brought in earlier this month.
"I'm originally from Canada and I didn't know this type of shoe … this one's definitely cheaper," the veterinarian laughed.
The shoe will remain in place for ten days and the magpie is expected to regain the use of his foot.
"We are getting into the breeding season, so we would like to put him back out there before that starts," Ms Lacasse said.
"It's always a great feeling to see them take off after all the efforts we've put in to get them better."
Ms Lacasee has been making the bird shoes, or "paddles", for more than a decade.
She said about 80 per cent of the birds that used one had regained the use of their foot.
"It depends what the original causes are. Obviously, if there's just too much damage and the tendons are completely traumatised, it doesn't work," Ms Lacasee said
"If it's just mild constriction of the muscles and tendons, that usually resolves quite well.
"We become very inventive as wildlife vets."
Ms Lacasee has also trained other vets to make the shoes.
"I should have put a patent on it," she laughed.
"Once they get good results, they try it again."