Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL Pictured: Camelot macaw "Tusa"
I didn’t realize that pet shops and other places alike offer nail trimming services to pet owners. It was just the other week ago that I was at a place and the lady that came in brought her amazon parrot and african grey for some much needed nail trims. The birds wings were clipped and as I overheard the conversation go something like this, “Does she need her wings clipped?” as the owner replied, “What do you think? They haven’t grown in all that much since the last time she got them done.”
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Coney Island, NY On a bamboo perch blue and gold macaw "Coco"
It was almost like listening to two women talk about their pedicures. I wanted to shout, “Don’t you dare clip that poor bird’s wings!” but of course, I didn’t. I just watched and listened. “She’s probably okay, we can do it later when you bring her in again, then it will probably be time. So just the nails?” the owner replied yes and the store people toweled the bird and took it into a room, then came back with it and began filing the nails down as one person held the bird. The bird yelled and griped about it the entire time and at the end the people brought the bird around front and let it get out of the towel and walk to the floor where the owner let it step up and feel rescued, in a way. Though the bird seemed quite upset the owner watched as it was held down and its nails were done. Not that that is at all painful for the bird, just not the best trust building situation...
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: On tour Sandy lightweight perch with blue throated macaw "Jinx"
I watched and all I could think of was how grateful I was that I didn’t have to do that to MY birds... bring them in to a stranger to have them towel them and hold them down just to trim their nails. I kept thinking, why would anyone unless something was wrong with the nails? I have a couple budgies who grow one really long nail no matter what perches they are given and so they have to be clipped by us which isn’t so hard to do and we train our birds to be good for that sort of thing, but they’re best about it when it’s us. So as the lady let her second bird get its nails done I continued to watch. The lady likely noticed how intent I was on the whole situation and how I also stood there, birdless. “Are you here for the same thing with your bird?” she asked me. “No.” I said. “I don’t take my birds in for nail trimmings, they have them naturally trimmed down with the types of perches I use. Like the cement circular ones, or those bamboo perches with sand blasted on half of them. They’re great. Have you tried them?”
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: On tour Lightweight sandy perch with congo african grey "Cressi"
Her eyes widened and she seemed so curious to know about these perches I used. I got looks all around the store and realized maybe I was messing up business for them by saying that. So the woman took me aside and asked me more personally about the perches. I pointed out some at the store - they weren’t exactly what I use, I told her, but she could likely order them through that shop if she wanted. I didn’t want to deter business, but I also did want to save her birds from what looked like an unnecessary stressful situation every 6 months. She thanked me, I bought some toys and went on my way.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: On tour Bamboo and light weight sandy perches with galah "Bondi"
In this economy everyone could benefit from saving a few bucks and honestly, you don’t need to take your bird to someone to get his beak or nails trimmed if you accommodate his needs correctly within his environment/cage/aviary. These are the types of perches I use to keep all of my bird’s nails trimmed down. Not only do I save on appointment costs for someone else to do it, but I also save the stress factor of putting my birds through being toweled by a stranger to do it. Obviously if your bird has a condition that makes the growth of his beak or nails grow abnormally and in greater lengths and speed than normal parrots you likely need it from a vet every so often, but if you don’t have any issues, it can be done naturally with some perches. My favorite are the sand blasted bamboo ones. Eventually the sand-stone wears off and you’re left with a bamboo perch.
My next favorite is the circular cement ones. These are very popular in our aviaries at the food dishes.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL Camelot macaw on circular perch "Tusa"
My third favorite are these light weight sandy ones. These are very easy to carry around and put in quickly into a cage. That’s why I like them the most, but I prefer the other two types before this one.
As for beaks, there are tons of things you can get from petshops or online to help your bird trim down his own beak. Toys are huge, and especially shreddable toys they can destroy like oyster shell, coconut, wood and then also things like calcium perches or sticks and cuttlebone. They make edible toys along with edible perches so you can have it all and see what your bird takes to. Mine personally love the edible perches and don’t really otherwise touch the ones that just stick to the side of the cage via a holder. They also love the toys and clay made toys.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL Pink and purple calcium/cuttlebone perches with quaker parrot "Libby"
Everything about those is a personal preference and up to your bird though. I say try them all to figure it out.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.