Does your parrot need a pedicure? Are your raven’s feet looking ragged? Does your cockatiel have cracked claws? If so, it’s time to get your bird’s nails done, and here’s how to do it:
Wild birds don’t need anyone’s help to get their claws trimmed down, as the constant contact between their nails and the countless abrasive surfaces they come into contact with on a daily basis keep them in shape. You’ll know if your bird buddy needs their nails clipped if they have difficulty walking on them, perching, getting their claws caught on surfaces or if they simply look too long.
The dainty nails of smaller birds, such as budgies (parakeets) and finches, are easily handled by human nail clippers, while larger parrots such as cockatiels and macaws need clippers specially designed for small dogs, cats and other smaller animals.
Before you begin, you’ll want to shut all of the doors and windows in the room to prevent your feathered friend from escaping. Take your bird out of its cage and lightly wrap it in a towel to keep unnecessary squirming, wing flapping and the obvious bite hazard. If you’re giving a big bird a pedicure, you might want to get a pal to hold your towel-wrapped bird while you get to work.
Just as I detailed in my “How to trim your dog’s nails” article, it’s much easier to avoid clipping the vein of lightly colored claws. You don’t want to remove too much of the claw anyway, clip the pointed tip on each toe. Be aware that being wrapped in a towel and having her claws trimmed isn’t your bird’s idea of a good time, so aim for a snappy pedicure so birdie can unwind in her cage as soon as possible.
If you accidentally nicked the quick inside of a claw, you will see some blood and honestly, the bird most likely feet a bit of pain. (Ow!) Don’t worry too much, wipe off the blood with a paper towel and dab some styptic powder over the end of the claw to swiftly stop the bleeding.
You and your bird probably won’t like the at-home pedicure the first time, but if you’re firm and persistent, Polly will learn to accept having her nails done once in a while. Grab a nice set of bird clippers, a towel and a handy friend, and you will save yourself a trip to the vet. Good luck, bird lovers!