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Using Microchips to Identify Pet Birds

Microchips are tiny computer chips that, when inserted below the skin of an animal, provide a means of permanent identification.  In my work as a zoologist, I have long used them with a wide variety of birds, reptiles and mammals.  Early models were large and tended to move about, but those in use today are barely the size of a rice grain, and hold their position quite well.

Why Use Microchips?
In addition to offering a means of positively identifying lost or stolen pet birds, microchips enable hobbyists to differentiate similar individuals in large collections, and to keep track of parentage and genetics.  This last point is important to all breeders, but especially those who deal with rare birds that might be seriously impacted by inbreeding.

Placement and Practical Considerations
Microchips are inserted below a bird’s skin by a veterinarian utilizing a hypodermic needle, and without anesthesia.  The process takes but a few seconds, and the results last a lifetime.  Once inserted, the chip’s unique identification code is registered with a recovery network so that a permanent record may be maintained.  The network is contacted in the event of the recovery of a lost or stolen bird.

Unfortunately, the chips can only be read by a scanner that understands the manufacturer’s code. Scanners are expensive and therefore veterinarian’s offices and recovery agencies usually stock only one type.  Be sure to choose a well-known make of chip.  AVID and Trovan are favored by many zoos and used by the ASPCA, while the American Kennel Club relies upon Home Again.


An interesting article detailing a unique use of microchips in a field study of hummingbirds is posted at:

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