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Let's Talk About Grooming
Posted:9/1/2013 12:00:00 AM

Companion animals benefit greatly by living with humans….. It has been proven,  life expectancy of a domestic cat living in the wild is less than one year yet exceeds 15years as a companion. The life span of an Amazon Parrot in the wild is less than 10 years but can exceed 50 years as a companion. With the joys of living with feathered pets, comes the responsibility of making sure we help them in achieving their maximum life expectancy.  One of the ways we do this is by keeping them properly groomed. Wing trimming, beak and toe maintenance are essential in helping to keep them healthy and safe.

When one of us sells a baby to a new family, more often than not we hear “we want our bird to fly free” or “does it hurt?” or “why do we have to clip the wings?” Here are some of  our reasons for insisting on feather grooming……..It doesn’t hurt any more than getting your hair cut………it doesn’t take away the birds’ ability to fly, it just keeps them from gaining altitude……it helps to keep them from flying into a ceiling fan….it helps to keep them from flying out of the door…..drowning in the sink or toilet…..getting burned on or around the stove and hot foods… helps to keep them from getting stepped on…..sat on….or used as a play toy for your dogs and cats… helps to keep them from flying into windows and mirrors and breaking their necks……and the list goes on and on…….

People think nothing of leashing their dogs or putting a fence around the yard or providing a run for them. Spaying or neutering a dog or cat doesn’t inhibit its’ “true nature”. But the thought of trimming their bird’s wings appalls them! Go figure…..


We normally trim the first five flight feathers on a bird…..this is dependent on the weight and muscle tone. Heavy bodied birds usually do not require additional feather clipping……birds that have been allowed free flight usually need additional feathers clipped. How often this needs to be done depends on the new feather growth, so visual checking is necessary……usually every three to four months is an average.


Because of the physical structure of a bird’s foot…. two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, it must be able to open its foot completely to be able to climb around on the cage. If the nails grow too long, your bird may not be able to climb from place to place in its cage……..If your bird would become frightened and not be able to get loose from the bars, a leg or toe could be broken, or a toenail could get pulled from the nail bed. Super long toenails can also get caught in toys causing injury. Also, having your bird professionally groomed provides an opportunity for the groomer to check the condition of your bird’s general foot health.


Beaks need attention as well as the aforementioned. This is something you should not attend to yourself…..only a professional Groomer or a Veterinarian should maintain the beak. Normally, your bird maintain the beak itself….You may periodically notice your bird rubbing its beak on a perch or possibly the bars of the cage….This is positive because he is keeping his beak in good repair. Sometimes you might notice a “peeling look” on the beak, this is quite normal. I equate this with how our fingernails can slough off sometimes.  A beak that is unusually overgrown or soft often needs Veterinary attention. Most often an overgrown beak indicates a nutritional issue. For some birds, a longer than normal beak is just the way God made them.

Paula and Beth do an excellent job as our Groomers. They have many years of experience and are well able to evaluate the wellbeing of your bird as well as being acutely aware of your bird’s demeanor when brought in for grooming. Some birds are very stressed and/or frightened when brought to us …..Most birds do extremely well when groomed, but some have a few issues. Paula and Beth pay very close attention to these signs and sometimes have to forego grooming until the bird is calmer. In a few severe cases, they will recommend a Vet be the one to complete the grooming. This is rare but can occur. Birds that are regularly groomed normally have no problems. Our entire grooming process is quick, efficient and done with the comfort and security of the bird as the top priority.


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