Humans have always been fascinated with birds. They are what drove us to want to emulate them in order to take flight and soar off into the sky. Birds are things of beauty, and our love of them has manifested itself in our attempts to tame or domesticate them to the extent we can make pets out of them. They’ve become extremely popular as a pet over the years and are deserving of good health while in our care. That’s why it’s important to recognize when there may be a problem, and an early indicator of poor health often shows itself with their beaks.
Healthy Beak, Healthy Bird
Avian experts say that a healthy bird has a healthy beak, that the two go hand in hand. Birds use their beaks like we use our hands. It’s like an elephant’s trunk. Through the use of their beaks they are able to perform a multitude of tasks that are vital to their survival and overall good health. They are used for various activities, but feeding (cracking seeds and nuts), grooming and defending themselves are where they really come into play. Many people don’t realize this, but each group of birds has a beak with a distinct shape and design that directly relates to their particular lifestyle and the types of food they normally eat.
Signs of an Unhealthy Bird & Beak
Some of the signs of an unhealthy bird include a red or inflamed cere. That’s the little patch above their beak that their nostrils are set in. It’s what we perceive as their nose. Pay close attention to this area. If you observe redness, inflammation or discharge, there’s a distinct chance that your pet could be seriously ill. Another thing to be considerate of is a cracked, chipped or broken beak. This can lead to serious health issues and even death by impeding its ability to eat. If your birds are not clipped and you let them fly around indoors, make sure they cannot crash into any windows or mirrors. This is easily accomplished by covering the glass with a towel, blanket or drapes/blinds.
Signs of a Healthy Bird Beak
There are several ways you can tell your bird’s beak is in tiptop shape. They include a smooth and symmetrical appearance; no discoloration; no peeling, rough or unusual textures; the upper portion of the beak should align with the lower portion and that the length is proper for the type of bird in your care. If you’re not sure about the last part, ask your veterinarian or consult a professional on the subject. Bird beak lengths vary by species according to their needs and usage, as mentioned above. Parrots, for instance, have a longer curved beak that is extremely strong for cracking large seeds and nuts. Other birds may have a long narrow beak for getting inside holes, cracks and crevasses for extracting insects.
Products for a Healthy Bird Beak
There are several things you can do to help provide your birds with the items they need to keep up proper beak health. First, if you haven’t already been using them, try cuttlebones. While not actually a bone but the internal shell of a cuttlefish, they are a wonderful source of calcium, which can aid in strengthening the keratin that your bird’s beak consists of. Keratin is what’s responsible for our finger and toenails and animal horns. The texture of a cuttlebone helps to wear down overgrown beaks and keep those that aren’t from getting there. They are available in many shapes, sizes and flavors. You should keep one in your bird’s cage 24/7.
Bird Beak Conditioners
Keeping your bird’s beak conditioned can alleviate or prevent beak issues from becoming an issue in the first place. Natural lava stone blocks help birds keep their beaks sharp and trimmed the way they would if they were in the wild. There’s another type of conditioning block you can also purchase for this purpose, and that is a Manu mineral block. It’s derived from a natural, mineral-rich clay with its origins from the Manu River deep within the Amazon. The clay contains nine essential minerals birds actually crave, and its odd shape and rough texture provide excellent conditioning and exercise for your bird’s beak.
Finally, you can consider something like a banana mineral treat that’s a beak conditioner and nutrient provider all in one. Besides offering the essential nutrients calcium and iodine, it also helps with trimming and conditioning. Any of these products can be found in brick and mortar stores or online where pet supplies are sold. By being observant and using an ounce of prevention, you can potentially extend the age and health life of your feathered friends for years to come.