✂️ What I Like About Cutting My Parrot’s Nail/Claws
First, I’ll say that we call them talons– and then my mentor and my veterinarian correct me and say, “They are nails!”
Ha! They dig in like ice picks, like talons!
Ok, all joking aside, there are 3 reasons I like to take care of my parrots at home:
- It reduces the stress of going to a groomer
- Saves 💰 (money) that I can use for other things for my parrots
- I can adjust the amount of cutting/clipping
One thing that rubs me the wrong way is taking my parrot to be professionally groomed to a 🧛. It’s not really that I think that the groomers are vampires, but they are too ready and comfortable pulling out a powder to stop bleeding for when they cut a parrot’s nail too much and make it bleed. I’m guessing they do this because they want to make sure their clients don’t return in a week or two saying that their parrot’s nails are too sharp again.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned: I think my parrot’s blood should stay in their bodies. I also understand that any time a body has an open wound, it is susceptible to outside germs getting in. Why make my Caique or my Green-cheeked Conure bleed?
You Can Learn To Cut Your Budgie or Your Macaw’s Nails, Claws Or – If They Are Sharp- Talons!
Tools You’ll Need
To cut your parrot’s nails:
- A dremel – A dremel is like an electronic nail file. We got ours on Amazon.com; it was under $20 and is made for cats and dogs. In the future, I’d like to get a more professional one that files more finely for my parrot’s beaks
- Nail cutters – Our heavy-duty human nail cutters, which we got at Target and are made for toe nails (thicker than your hand’s nails) are great at cutting our parrot’s nails. These toe nail cutters work on our medium and large parrots; a cuticle nail cutter is a better tool for small parrots, like Budgies or Parrotlets, whose nails are thinner. The nail cutters often leave sharp edges, so it’s nice to have the dremel too. The cutters quickly cut off the end of the nail and then the dremel can round sharp edges.
PLEASE NOTE: Parrot’s talons (nails) are like your nails. They have “pink” and white parts. The pink bed is connected and bleeds, just like it does for you if you cut your nail below the white and into the pink area. With some parrots, like my Indian Ringneck who is Palid-colored (almost white), you can see the pink area in her claw. However, for most parrots, their claws are all black, so it is hard to see where to cut. If you cut too high, your parrot will bleed. You may want to have flour or corn starch on-hand to clot the bleeding – or you may want some honey water (literally a little water with honey in it, a natural antibiotic you can use on parrots) in case you cut too high.
You really only want to cut the sharp tip. You can always cut or file more down with the dremel. Most of the curve of their nail should be left; only the very pointed end should require cutting/filing.
- Towel- Having a towel on hand is always handy with a parrot when you are grooming them. If you have a helper to hold your parrot for you, they can use the towel to hold your bird, but if you are doing it alone, you may find that the towel makes it easier to “burrito” your parrot for an easier hold.
- Scissors – For wing-clipping.
How To Safely Hold Your Parrot
PLEASE NOTE: I make a point of illustrating how my daugher holds our Budgie and our Caique in the videos on nail and wing grooming because you DO NOT want to hold your parrot in such a way that constricts their breathing. You hand or fingers should NOT go over their throat or chest, as this can make it hard or not possible for them to breathe. The same is true if you place your parrot in a towel. Practice with a stuffed animal: I like to cover their eyes gently so that they struggle less, but leave their nose uncovered; I also try to wrap my parrot at their ‘middle,’ around their wings, so that they can’t get away but I can get to their feet/nails. If I’m clipping their wings, then I let one side of the towel go, which means they can wiggle more, so that I can access their wings.
Granted, groomers have more practice and are better at cutting nails and clipping wings that you and I are. Still, I tend to be more gentle and loving with my parrots than a stranger and cause them to bleed a lot less. Use common sense when it comes to making sure to stop your grooming session of your parrot is stressing out, if he starts breathing too hard, and keep his safety in mind first.
🦜 Wings! Controversy! Why Would You Clip Your Parrot’s Wings?
The only reason we clip wings is for our parrot’s safety. Some of the most bedazzling colors. I hate clipping their wings.
However, some of my parrots walk and fly into trouble. They go harass other parrots. So, we clip their wings so that they don’t fly onto another parrot’s cage/home, which is their safe space. I am a strong believer that each one of my parrots (actually, every creature in my home) has the right to have a hassle-free safe space all their own.
Other parrots, like my Catalina Macaw, are too big to fly around and I walk her- she loves going out on my arm to see what’s up with the sky! She is not trained to free-fly, nor am I willing to take on the inherent free-fly risks at this time, so for her safety and enjoyment, she’s clipped at this time. Things change and their flight feathers grow out, so who knows what to tomorrow will bring, but for now, this is where I feel the best, safest choice is for her.
What Feathers To Clip? 🦜
Your parrot has three rows of feathers. In trying to make our videos, which were requested by some of our FB fans (our FB page is at: https://www.facebook.com/ParrotBliss/) we had to re-do the video a couple times. In doing so, I saw that it was harder to see the three rows of feathers on our Green-cheeked Conure than it was on our Caique – it’s a little hard to see on our budgie too, since she is smaller, and our Indian Ringneck had bathed, so her feathers were wet!
Look For Feathers You Can Put Your Fingers Through
The lowest and longest row of feathers on your parrot’s wing are the flight feathers. These you can put your finger through. The next row up gets into some wing skin, so you can’t put your finger through these; finally, the first row at the top has the most bone and is the most solid.
You only need to clip the end of a few feathers, maybe 4 feathers, to keep your parrot from flying up. In other words, you can choose to only clip the very end of the arc of your parrot’s 4 feathers furthest from their body if you just want to keep them from flying up. If they are still flying up too much, clip a little more and then a little more. If they are still flying more than you want them to fly or if you are clipping them so that you can have them stay on a perch for training, you may choose to clip more feathers – but never go too high on this third row of feathers, it isn’t necessary and you can get into the thicker part of the feather’s core, which may have some blood in it.
The best reasons to clip your parrot’s feathers are so that your parrot can’t fly up to a ceiling fan, into a window, onto the stove or other such places. Of course, parrot’s are so intelligent that you may be able to show them that your window is solid by hitting the glass, but I don’t know that you can teach them to watch out for other problems, such as someone suddenly opening the front door or a window.
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