It is a common misconception that pet birds require little more can than the occasional cleanup and scrub-down of the bird cages. Nothing could be further from the truth! Happy, healthy birds need occasional grooming as well. Learn how to do it right.
Pet Grooming Supplies: Tools of the Trade for Bird Grooming
Start off with a generous dose of patience. Unlike dogs, pet birds are very fragile and far less likely to obediently sit and stay while you work at grooming them. Set up a small room, such as a bathroom, with cat nail clippers, styptic powder, a tip-proof dish in the sink and a towel. Enlist the assistance of a helper (if needed).
Grooming the Nails
The pet bird’s nails should ideally wear down on perches covered with a slightly roughened surface. If this fails to do the trick and you notice that the animal has a hard time placing a foot flatly on a surface, it is time to use the cat nail clippers and shorten the nails.
Jennifer Prince, DVM recommends keeping the styptic powder nearby so that an accidental cut that draws blood can quickly be tended to. Wrap the bird in the towel with just the head, legs and tail sticking out and allow the helper to gently restrain the animal while you do the clipping.
Bathing Pet Birds
When cleaning out bird cages, give the animals the opportunity take a bath. Some birds already enjoy splashing around in bird baths. Others prefer a tip-proof dish in the sink, with the water dripping slowly. Remember to place a strainer into the sink and close off the opening to the garbage disposal.
If you have a bird that simply does not warm up to the idea of water, use a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water. Set the dial to ‘mist’ and spray the animal’s back a couple of times.
Do not skimp on this practice! Avian Web advises that bathing pet birds is an excellent method for reducing dander, while also stimulating the animal’s natural preening instinct. As a result, the odds of mite infestations decrease.
When to Leave Bird Grooming to the Professional
There are two tasks that newbies to bird grooming routinely shy away from: beak shaping and wing clipping. Unless you have the right pet grooming supplies and are certain how to proceed, it is wise to leave these tasks to a vet, veterinary assistant or another household member who knows how to do it.
Clipping the beak should only be done if you notice that the animal has a hard time grasping and consuming food with it. Wing clipping should be done to prevent the animal from flying around the room. Contrary to popular opinion, it is neither cruel nor does it prevent the animal from exercising its wings; pet birds with clipped wing feather can still glide from object to object but they cannot attain altitude, which prevents them from flying into windows, walls and doors.