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Trimming the Nails and Beak

If you're unsure about doing these procedures, take your bird to a trained specialist.

Your bird's nails and beak may also require some attention. Overgrown nails may not only cause you pain when the bird is perched on your hand but may make it difficult for the bird to perch. Trimming your bird's nails can be more difficult than trimming its wings. Take your bird to a professional avian groomer or veterinarian for this procedure if you have not done it before or are at all uncertain. If you use a commercially available concrete perch to help keep nails short between trims, make sure other types of smooth perches are available in your bird's cage.

First, one person should restrain the bird by wrapping it in a towel. Only its face and the nail you are clipping should be exposed. The person restraining the bird should have a firm grip--but not too firm--around the back of the bird's head, behind the eyes, with the thumb and index finger. Also, keep a firm grip on the towel near the bird's lower body. Never grip the bird around the chest area.

Clip only the pointed ends off each nail. Birds have a vein, called the quick, that runs through each nail. You can see it if you hold your bird's nail up to a light. If you cut into this, not only will it hurt your bird, but the nail will begin to bleed. If it bleeds, immediately apply a cauterizing powder. Only cut a little off each nail, or you will be cutting into the quick. The vein will recede with each gradual clipping allowing you to clip a little more each subsequent time.

Provide your bird with plenty of toys and mineral blocks or cuttle bones to chew on, and it will probably not have a problem with an overgrown beak. If the beak does become overgrown, you should leave the beak trimming to an avian veterinarian.


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