Your Pet Bird:
your bird includes trimming its wings and nails, filing
its beak,preening your bird and bathing your bird. Grooming
your bird gives you a chance to spend quality time with
your bird and helps you to form a stronger bond with your
your bird's wings serves several purposes. The taming process
is much easier and faster with their wings clipped and you
have better control over your bird while taming it. Wing
trimming will also prevent your bird from flying into objects
such as windows or mirrors and injuring itself.
wing clipping is necessary for all pet birds, it does remove
one of the exercise modalities that birds depend on. Therefore,
it is important for you as a responsible bird owner to offer
your bird an alternative exercise method. We recommend a
cage large enough for your bird to climb around in, with
several different toys to encourage play. We also feel it
is important that you have your bird out of its cage as
often as possible. A good place for the bird to play when
it is out of its cage is on a playpen. There are several
different varieties on the market now. Some companies will
even custom build them to your specifications. Avian Treasures
custom builds great playpens and offers several types for
birds of all sizes. A playpen provides your bird with a
place of his own where he can exercise and play without
being confined to his cage. Birds with clipped wings will
almost always stay on their playpens, especially if the
playpen offers a lot to keep them occupied.
different methods of wing clipping are in print and everyone
has their own opinion on the correct method. The method
we have found that works the best is to clip the outer primaries
of BOTH wings, below the level of the primary coverts. The
number to remove on each side varies with species as well
as individually. The primaries must be cut because they
are the feathers that give lift when the bird flaps its
wings. The secondary flight feathers should be left intact
to give some air resistance in case the bird falls. It is
important to trim both wings so the bird is able to maintain
its balance. We do not recommend plucking the feathers because
they will grow back out in six weeks and it is a very uncomfortable
experience for the bird. It is important to remember that
clipped feathers will molt out and new ones will replace
them within a few months. When the new feathers grow in
they contain a pulp consisting of blood vessels and nerves.
You should not clip the blood feathers because they will
bleed profusely and cause the
bird a lot of pain, stress, and blood loss. It is best to
wait until the feathers are fully mature before clipping
the wings again.
birds are very strong fliers and may still be able to fly
even after being clipped. So, do not risk taking the bird
outside, trusting the wing clip, only to have something
suddenly scare your bird, and cause it to fly off into the
wild blue yonder. You will be left standing there with your
mouth open, thinking --"But, ....But,...s/he was clipped!"
I have seen it happen, with no matter as to the tameness
of the bird. Just as a side thought, please do not put those
nasty leg chains on your bird. They will invariably lead
to a broken leg.
your birds' nails also serves several purposes. When their
nails become too long perching is uncomfortable and it may
lead to more serious foot problems. Long sharp nails are
also uncomfortable to you when your bird perches on your
bare skin. Long nails may also become snagged in toys, clothing
or on a cage and can result in serious leg or foot injuries.
trimming your bird's nails it is important to remember that
each nail has a blood and a nerve supply called the quick.
Remember that the quick grows with the nail and an overgrown
nail will have a longer quick. If you trim the nail too
far back and cut the quick, it will bleed and will be painful
to the bird. Any amount of blood loss, however small, is
significant and should be stopped immediately with pressure
and a styptic compound.
beak also has a quick like the nails and the same precautions
should be considered when correcting the beak length. If
your bird has plenty of toys to chew on, a Polly Perfect
or lava rock perch to rub its beak on, and its beak is growing
normally, it should not be necessary to trim the beak. It
may be necessary, however, to file the tip with an emery
board or nail file to dull the point or shorten its length
slightly. If the beak is growing too fast or growing abnormally,
you should see your avian veterinarian to determine the
cause and cure.
nail and beak trimming are simple procedures. If you are
inexperienced with how to perform them, then have your avian
veterinarian show you the proper instruments needed and
the correct method of trimming. Once you have done it a
few times it becomes easier. I recommend, however, that
owners let others do the grooming so their bird does not
become distrustful to the owner.
by Dr. Greg Burkett, Diplomat ABVP, Board Certified Veterinarian