Drawing blood from our avian patients sounds scarier than it actually is. There are three common veins that can be used, Jugular vein, Basilic vein and the Metatarsal vein. The jugular vein is often our first choice due to its size and the fact that we do not need an assistant to hold the bird for us. Keep in mind that ill or injured patients are under an enormous amount of stress; this does not mean you do not draw a blood sample. Just like our feline and canine patients, when possible stabilize the patient first; if not possible ask yourself, is the risk of a blood draw worth what the out come may be? If so, have all your supplies prepared and with the best of your ability draw your sample quickly and efficiently.
The following is quoted from Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician, one of my favorite books.
Right Jugular Vein – “The right jugular vein is two-thirds larger than the left and is easily visualized by applying a small amount of alcohol to the featherless tract on the right side of the neck. Occlude the vein with a thumb or finger at the level of the thoracic inlet and use a 25- to 22-gauge needle to perform the phlebotomy. No more than 1% of the body weight in blood should be removed from a healthy bird. Less should be removed from ill birds.”
Basilic Vein – “Also known as the cutaneous ulnar vein, this vein courses over the medial surface of the proximal ulna. It is an excellent site for phlebotomy in hawks, pigeons, and chickens, but is very prone to forming a hematoma, especially in parrots.”
Metatarsal Vein – “This vein courses over the dorsal, then medial surface of the hock (the tibotarsal-tarsometatarsal joint) and is an excellent site for phlebotomy in pigeons, chickens, and ducks.”
Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician – Ballard and Cheek
Exotic Animal Care – Tully and Mitchell