By Angie Pearson,Ph.M.
Edited by Alan Stanford,Ph.D.
volunteer, I volunteer! I LOVE trimming nails, beaks and stuff! Even at
the shows you can find me walking around with a fingernail file in
hand, gently filing down any tiny little places on my Silkies beaks.
Sometimes I stand and look at other Silkies that need trims and "wish"
so much the owner would be around so I could help them file it down!
Why? Birds with very long beaks can starve, the feet of birds with too
long toenails permanently deform, show birds need perfect feathers, and
Silkies with too many feathers in front of their eyes can't find food
and starve, can't breed, or have no fun.
I am a perpetual perfectionist :)
is how I do it. It is not too scary.
adult birds use dog nail clippers; use people toenail clippers for
chicks. Gently hold the bird in your lap, turn her over with feet up,
and grasp a foot. Hold a toe and look carefully "inside" the toenail.
You can kind of see a "vein" in the middle of the nail; there's a
clearer part on the end. It is the clear part you want to trim off.
Carefully snip off the end. Look at the nail's end to see rings like a
tree stump. If you see a dark spot in the middle of the nail's end,
stop there. Trim until you see that spot or until you can tell from a
side view of the nail that you are close to the vein.
If You Cut Too Short Don't Panic
you get too close, don't panic! Just quickly dab the bleeding nail with
ordinary flour or some pet quickstop for nails. The bleeding will stop.
Check a bit later to make sure it stayed "stopped".
as a side note, don't feel bad if you get a nail too close. I have
trimmed many too close and they always live. (Ed:
Of course Angie always makes sure the bleeding stops and stops soon.).
You feel horrible, but they survive, just get the bleeding to stop.
trimmed a parrot's nails last night. I got all of them perfect until
the last. He moved and I cut too short. It really started to bleed. I
whipped out my quick stop and got it to quit. THEN, when I was done,
the owners told me what they had paid for the bird. I almost
died......it was a $1000 .....yes .....a 1 thousand dollar bird!! If I
had known that, I would not have touched it with a 10 foot pole! I even
trimmed its wings......aaaaahhhhhhh....... I am glad I didn't know. He
survived. I almost didn't.
Trimming Beaks Tricky, But Can Be Done
the bird upside down in your lap just like for trimming toenails. Look
at the top and bottom beak. Sometimes the beak has a chip or a pointed
end; sometimes it is just too long. Take your people toenail clippers
and just barely clip off any extra clear beak. Then, take a fingernail
file and gently file the beak smooth and round. Be very careful
because, unlike in toenails, the vein is hard to see. Look underneath
the top beak to see where the extra beak starts. Just trim a little bit
at a time.
was hard for me at first, but now I find easy and they look so much
Plucking or Trimming Feathers
usually only pluck if I find a damaged bleeding feather. Sometimes,
when you bathe and blow dry, a feather breaks and bleeds from the round
shaft close to the skin. If the feather is bleeding and will not stop,
I grab it firmly and pull. I don't like doing it, but it is something
that needs be done.
sometimes pull out a feather if it is horribly broken or stained beyond
help. Feathers usually grow back in 10 weeks but sometimes they don't.
That is why cleaning feathers as soon as they get dirty is safer but,
of course, sometimes impossible to do. I have a couple of head dunkers!
Try and keep them spotless.