Is Your Parrot’s Peeling Beak Normal?

A bird’s beak serves more purpose that just about any other part of its outer anatomy. Aside from its obvious function during meals, it is used for climbing and it acts as a “hand” as it explores its world. It can snap a tree branch in half and then gently feed a chick in the nest. A bird would surely struggle without its beak.

Like our nails, a beak is made of keratin. And like our nails, beak tissue is continually growing. Normally, if a bird is on a good diet, a healthy beak will take care of itself. As it navigates its cage and chews on wooden toys, the beak is naturally groomed and any overgrowth is worn down.

There is always a fresh supply of new beak growth just under the existing beak, and it makes its way to the surface by sloughing off the old outer growth. This means that sometimes the visible part of the beak begins to peel away.

In fact, you will more often see a peeling appearance in your bird’s beak than not. Sometimes it looks extreme, but it is all part of the normal growth process. It is not unusual for a bird to try to hurry the process by rubbing its beak against hard surfaces. I try to gently discourage this behavior when I see it happen. I have seen birds wear grooves into their beaks from the cage bars when they become obsessive in this activity.

If there is ever any question that your bird’s beak appearance may be the result an injury or an illness, you should definitely have your vet take a look. Deep gouges, cracks and crevises should not be considered normal.

Hyacinth macaw – NORMAL peeling

 

Mitred conure – NORMAL peeling

 

Goffins cockatoo – NORMAL peeling

 

 

Greenwing macaw – NORMAL peeling

 

 

Scarlet macaw – even this degree of chipping can be NORMAL- photo by parrot and conure world

The photos below are ABNORMAL beaks due to disease, parasitical infestation or injury:

Wild Cape parrot with PBFD photo by Rodnick Biljon

 

Budgie with mites infestation photo by birds-online.de

Amazon beak injury – photo by Anna Sloan

 

I should also mention that, in a cockatoo, a perfect, shiny beak is strong indicator of PBFD. The cockatoo beak should always be coated in a fine white powder.

Umbrella cockatoo, Linus – NORMAL (Well, the beak is normal)

Watch this video to learn how you can adjust your bird’s diet to prevent many beak ailments naturally:

10 comments

Roneita

What about cracking in the middle straight across both my conures have this

Roneita
Leila Hooser

OMG! Thanx so much for the pics!…cuz my 7 yr old Golden Capped Conure has the exact pattern of beak peeling on his lower beak left side…I’m all freaked out today until I read this article!…or perhaps I never thought a little flaking was my bird’s beak regenerating new keratin!

Leila Hooser
Leslie

Hi there, I have lovebirds, and no ‘experts’ I asked about my birds beak knew this!!! Thank you thi pics are very helpful. I am a little concerned tho as there are very small dark patches on a couple of the birds beaks, located quite centrally, could these be infections? the birds look healthy otherwise. One has akind of crack coming from the nostril, I could attach pics as again nobody could tell me what was going on here Thank you Leslie :-)

Leslie
sriprasanna

recently i rescued a small parrot in which half of the lower beaks got broken when it fought with crow and it will grow normally ?

sriprasanna
sriprasanna

recently i rescued a small parrot in which half of the lower beaks got broken when it fought with crow and it will grow normally ?

sriprasanna
Suzanne Donzero

My ecclectus has a beak that gets enormously long and must be trimmed at least every six months. He doesn’t chew on anything that I’ve ever seen. We’ve got toys and rough perches galore in his cage as well as a pool-side tree “un-cage” which he doesn’t chew on either. How can I get him to wear down his beak naturally? He’s such a friendly, wonderful pet.

Suzanne Donzero
Rosemary Southard

Hello I am glad you sent these pictures, and i did read, and see them. you can learn a lot about your bird just by looking at these. My beak friends are just find with theirs. Great to know how they are supposed to look. thanks. I would like to know more about the Cockatoos, and the Nanday Parrots. thanks.

Rosemary Southard
Faith Embleton

I am happy you showed photos as well. There are no vets where I live to look after a bird so its important to me to be on top of these things. Happy to say my Congo Grays beek looks fine! I tell every one, good diet, good diet soooo important for everything! Thanks Chet!

Faith Embleton
Donna Hamilton

Great that you have shown lots of photos about this…Thanks!

Donna Hamilton
Kerry Beard

well that is a relief,I have have had sulphur crested cockatoos and both died from the sulphur deficiency disease and their beak breaks away as they deteriorate.Now my gorgeous quaker Bluebell has slight peeling on the beak and now I know it is normal.you guys are the best :)

Kerry Beard

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