How to Clip a Bird's Nails

There’s no getting around it: clipping your bird’s nails can be nerve-racking for both you and your feathered friend. But it’s got to be done.

Close
X
Playback

Up next in How to Take Care of a Pet Bird (19 videos)

Learn how to take care of a pet bird with this Howcast video series, which includes instructions on how to build an aviary; how to hand train a bird; how to choose a bird feeder and birdcage; how to choose the pet bird that's right for you; how to train your bird to talk; how to clip a bird's nails; how to feed a baby bird; how to make an easy birdbath; how to attract hummingbirds to your yard; and much more.

You Will Need

  • A bird whose nails could use a clipping
  • Bird nail clippers
  • Styptic powder
  • Paper towels
  • A helper
  • Work gloves for your helper
  • A towel

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Step 1: No sandpaper perches

    Don’t rely on 'sandpaper' perches to keep your bird’s nails in shape. They don’t work, and they may hurt your bird’s feet.

  2. Step 2

    Step 2: Consult your vet

    Ask an avian vet, bird breeder, or pet store employee what will work best for your bird. For tiny finches, regular nail clippers can be used. For large parrots, you may need an electric nail grinder—no kidding!

  3. Step 3

    Step 3: Seal the room

    Make sure all doors and windows in the room are closed.

  4. Step 4

    Step 4: Remove the bird

    Gently remove your bird from her cage.

  5. If your bird isn’t hand-tame, wait until late at night when she’s sleepy.

  6. Step 5

    Step 5: Have a helper

    If your bird is large, have a helper—wearing work gloves—hold her while you check her feet. If she’s small, hold her with one hand while you check her nails with the other.

  7. f you have a large parrot with a strong beak, your helper should use a towel to cover the bird’s head—gently, of course.

  8. Step 6

    Step 6: Examine the nails

    Hold the bird’s foot up to the light. If she has pale nails, you can easily avoid nicking the vein inside the nail.

  9. Step 7

    Step 7: Clip the nails

    If your bird has dark nails, clip off only about one-sixteenth of an inch.

  10. Step 8

    Step 8: Snip only the point

    No matter how long the bird’s nails are, snip off only the short point at the end of each nail.

  11. Step 9

    Step 9: Work quickly

    Work as quickly as you can. Pedicures are stressful for birds, so speak calmly and soothingly to your bird as you clip.

  12. Step 10

    Step 10: Don’t freak

    Don’t freak if you take off a little too much and the bird’s nail starts to bleed—this happens. Just wipe the nail gently with a paper towel and dip it into styptic powder. The bleeding should stop quickly.

  13. Watch your bird carefully once she’s back in the cage. If the bleeding persists, call an avian vet.

  14. Step 11

    Step 11: Return the bird

    When you’re done, return your bird to her cage and heave a sigh of relief. You two will get used to pedicures. Besides, you’ve just helped to protect her from hurting herself—and you—without the stress of a vet visit.

  15. A hawk’s talons are curved so it can grab prey, while a hen’s claws are flat and stumpy so she can walk around easily.

Comments