Courtesy Sher Buckner, Oregon
Green-winged macaw Mongo chews on a branch to keep his beak nice and trim.
Beak Trim: (verb) Grinding an overgrown parrot beak carefully with a battery-operated dremel grooming tool. Beak trims should only be done by an avian veterinarian or experienced avian groomer as the beak has a blood supply and bone underneath its keratinized tissue. Also, the quick (nerve supply) may have grown too far into the beak. Trimming or cutting a beak should never be done with clippers, except by an avian veterinarian and only on excessive overgrowth. Why would parrots even need a beak trim? The parrot beak rarely overgrows or breaks in wild parrots, except due to illness. Pet parrots don’t use their beaks as much or as aggressively as wild parrots (chewing wood to hollow out a nest site, for example). Therefore, the beak’s keratinized tissue can, on occasion for some pet parrots, overgrow. (Keratin is the tough protein substance that forms the outer layer of epidermal structures, such as nails or horns.) The parrot beak can also overgrow due to illness, so you should first see your avian vet to find out if and why your parrot’s beak has overgrown. The beak trim is not painful if done correctly by a professional. All parrot species have varying beak sizes and lengths, so a beak trim should be done with extreme care, by a professional and with someone familiar with the proper shape of that species’ beak.
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