Grooming & Care
Birds do not require vaccinations. There are some vaccinations that are voluntary and should be discussed with your vet as it is a personal choice.
You should maintain a birds nails with regular clipping. If not maintained, it can be difficult for a bird to hold food and perch. When nails become too long they become a risk for catching on toys, clothing and such. Think of the letter C, if the bottom is longer than the top then it is time for a clipping.
I use a regular, large nail clipper and am sure to have Blood Stop on hand.
You can try doing this yourself or have someone else hold the bird while you clip. Hold your bird firmly at its sides, taking care not to press against its chest. This is important because birds do not have a diaphragm, so putting too much pressure on the chest may cause them to suffocate. Be sure to maintain control of the bird’s head to keep from being bitten. Hold the bird with a thumb on one side of the bird’s head and your middle finger on the other, holding firmly enough to keep the bird from turning its head freely. Maintain the bird's head is kept still from the top with your index finger and reassure your bird with kind words to keep it calm.
It’s a good idea to let your bird hold onto your finger while you clip.
Then you are ready to clip the toe nails. Just clip the very tip off as you can always clip more. You must be careful not to cut too much and cause the bird to bleed. If your bird does bleed, apply the Quick Stop immediately… Kind of packing it in the toenail. It is important to watch and be sure the bleeding stops as birds can bleed to death.
You can expect your bird to be vocal and not enjoy this. But if it looks to be struggling to breathe, it is panting or moving too much, STOP immediately and place your bird in the cage to calm down. You can talk to it to make it calm down, as well. Try again later.
If you make this a routine and do it often, your bird will get used to it and not mind too much.
SHOULD I CLIP MY BIRDS WINGS?
This is really a personal preference and a very controversial subject. There are many good reasons on both sides of the subject. The main reason bird owner’s clip their wings is for safety. Trimming a birds wings can help with some of the dangers birds face indoors that they would not outdoors such as windows, ceiling fans, ovens, stoves, sinks, toilets, etc. It also helps ensure they do not accidently fly away. An additional benefit is it allows for easier training when they are young since they are prone to fly away from you. Others say that it deprives them of their natural abilities. It is totally up to you which decision you make. Just because you trim them initially does not mean you can’t let them grow out and not trim again. A good resource is to discuss with your Avian Veterinarian.
IS IT OKAY IF MY BIRD IS SCRATCHING AND/OR CHEWING FEATHERS?
Many times you will see your bird scratching or preening itself and white stuff similar to dandruff coming off… THIS IS NORMAL. As new feathers come in, they start as coated waxy quills (a thin tube) which is where the feather will come from, birds scratch, preen and chew these quills and will often do it to each other if you have more than one bird. All birds molt and you will see this more while they are molting. Sometimes they will scream when they are doing this because it can be sensitive. Preening is normal. It helps to give them frequent baths, as it softens the quills. Birds may also pluck themselves, but this is an entirely different process (see below).
IS IT OKAY IF MY BIRD IS PLUCKING ITS FEATHERS?
It is hard to know exactly why a bird plucks its feathers. When you first notice your bird plucking, you should take it to an Avian Vet to rule out a medical reason for plucking. Sometimes boredom, lack of stimulation or sexual frustration can cause plucking. When they start picking, it can become a bad habit, like a human biting nails, that is hard to stop. You can try to give them toys that they can shred, as well as daily baths and see if this helps. Just because a bird plucks does NOT mean you are doing anything wrong.
WHAT IF MY BIRD HAS LICE & MITES?
Not as common as you think. You can see lice if you look carefully underneath the wing and tail feathers. They look like tiny dark lines that stick to the feathers. Just because they are scratching or picking doesn’t mean they have lice. If you think they do please take them to an Avian Vet.
OUT OF THE CAGE TIME:Birds need time out of their cage daily. Similar to you coming home from work and wanting to relax and watch some TV. Just be certain to supervise them. It doesn’t take long for them to get into mischief or disappear!