Birds information: grooming tips for bird

Simple tips and techniques provided to care for your pet bird including bathing, trimming feathers, nail care, and beak care.


When caring for a pet bird, proper grooming will help your bird live a healthier, happier life.  However, knowing how to properly groom and care for your bird is essential. 


Birds love water.  If you don’t allow your bird sufficient water time, you will find him frolicking happily in his water bowl.  For smaller birds, provide a small, shallow bowl of lukewarm water separate from their water supply and they will happily bathe without further prompting.  Some birds enjoy a light misting with a spray bottle.  Just be careful and mist from the top of the cage, similar to a rain shower, and avoid spraying the mist directly into the bird’s face.   Larger birds, such as parrots, can be bathed in the sink.  Line the sink with a towel to give the bird a good surface to cling to and to help prevent it from slipping.  Avoid the use of shampoo as it can cause respiratory and skin problems.

How to properly trim feathers:

Before you perform any grooming activity to your bird, remember that any blood loss could cause your bird to bleed to death.  Visit your local pet store and invest in a container of styptic powder which, when applied to a cut, will immediately stop the bleeding.  

Trimming feathers is generally a two-person job.  You will need a second pair of hands to help hold the bird firmly without harming it in the process.  If you are trimming a large bird’s wings, gloves should be worn.  

Hold the bird firmly and study the feather structure.  Emerging feathers that still have blood in the shafts should never be cut.  The primary feathers that have hard, whitish shaft turns are the feathers you can trim.  The primary feathers start at the leading edge of the wing followed by the secondary and tertiary groups of feathers.  

With scissors, cut the primary feathers on each wing, just behind the small feathers which overlay the flight feathers.  Be careful and trim each wing exactly the same or you will throw the bird off-balance.  If you accidentally cut a blood feather, use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to pluck out the feather at the base to stop the bleeding and apply the styptic powder. 

Nail Care Tips:

It is only necessary to trim your bird’s nails about once every six weeks.  Hold the bird firmly and look through the light-colored nails to determine exactly where the blood vein is located.  With sharp clippers, clip the nail about 2 millimeters from the tip of the nail and smooth with a nail file.  If bleeding occurs, dab the nail with styptic powder.  

Give your bird a variety of perch surfaces that can naturally help your bird keep it’s nails in top shape.  Avoid sandpaper perches as they may irritate the bird’s feet. 

How to Trim a Bird's Beak

Before attempting to trim your bird’s beak, take a trip to the veterinarian for a lesson on proper trimming techniques.  A novice should NEVER attempt to trim a bird’s beak.  But keep in mind, as long as you’re providing your bird with an appropriate diet and a variety of rough type perches, a bird’s beak should remain in good condition without trimming.  An overgrown beak is usually a symptom of mites which will require immediate veterinarian care. 


For sanitary reasons, supply your bird with a separate bathing water supply to keep it out of the water bowl.

Keep in mind when trimming feathers that the goal is to keep your bird from full flight, but not to trim the wings to the point of no flight.  A bird that is allowed out of it’s cage must be given the power to fly away from a predator.

Be sure and turn off the ceiling fan and close all the doors and windows before allowing your bird out of its cage for any reason.  

Make sure your stovetop is cool and the toilet bowl cover is down to prevent accidents.

If you allow your bird full flight, consider identifying your bird with a leg band such as one used by breeders.