Maryland Pet

Grooming Your Bird

If you own a dog or a cat, you probably knew that you would have to spend some time grooming your new pet. However, did you know that birds need to be groomed, too? Of course, you won’t be brushing his feathers, but you will need to clip his toenails, clip his wings and give him the occasional misting.

Clipping a bird’s toenails is a fairly simple procedure, but if you are uncertain whether you can handle the job, you can ask your veterinarian or local pet store owner for help. If you do not have his nails clipped, your bird can get his foot caught on his cage bars, his toys or his cage cover, so you really shouldn’t avoid this grooming chore.

To clip your bird’s toenails, you will need a helper, a towel, a pair of animal nail clippers and some styptic powder. If you don’t have styptic powder and you need to clip the nails immediately, household flour is an excellent blood-clotting agent.

Before you try to clip your bird’s nails, you will need to be sure he is unable to bite you. Carefully place the towel over his head and body. Make sure that he can breathe. Speak to him in a soothing tone and hold him securely. Have your helper clip off the little hook on the end of each toenail. Do not clip into the rest of the nail or your bird will begin to bleed.

If he does start to bleed, apply the styptic powder to the wound and watch him closely to be sure the bleeding stops. As soon as you are done clipping his toenails, release the bird back into his cage. He will be cross and irritable, so even if he is usually extremely sweet natured, you may want to let him calm down for a bit before you try to handle him to avoid being bitten.

While some people feel that clipping a bird’s wings is cruel, not clipping your pet’s wings can really be a bad idea. Unclipped birds can fly into windows or mirrors and break their necks. They can also slip out an open door or window and fall prey to cats, dogs or local predators. To clip your bird’s wings, you will need a towel, scissors and styptic powder. A helper is nice, but not necessary.

To clip a bird’s wings, you will need to restrain him with the towel, leaving one wing exposed. Cradle the bird securely and pull the exposed wing gently out until it is extended. You will see two rows of feathers. The long row of feathers on the bottom half of the wing are his flight feathers that help him fly. Never cut into the top row of shorter feathers. Now, you will have to decide if you want to do a severe wing clip or a more moderate clip that allows your bird to glide if he jumps off of his cage or play gym.

A severe wing clip is one that removes all ten of the long feathers at the end of the bird’s wings. A moderate clip leaves the first two feathers intact and removes the next eight feathers. Pinioning is a more permanent method of wing clipping and should only be done by a veterinarian.

Clip carefully, as you do not want to hit a blood feather. If one of the feathers starts to bleed, pull it out so that you remove both the feather and its shaft and apply styptic powder. Once the first wing is clipped, switch to the other side and repeat the process. Clipping only one side is dangerous, as it leaves the bird off balance.

Finally, you may want to occasionally mist your bird using a new spray bottle filled with water to help him stay sleek and smooth. Never use an old spray bottle, as it could have contained something hazardous to birds. Most birds really enjoy the process. Just be sure you do not mist your bird in the evening, as you want to be sure he has plenty of time to dry off.

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