Photo: PxFuel

To many who don’t own birds—and even some who do—it may come as a surprise that these feathered creatures have to be groomed, just like dogs and cats. And as the folks at Pet Grooming Xpert reveal, bird grooming is about more than just aesthetics. “It is essential because it also keeps birds in a healthy and hygienic condition”.

Here are four grooming services you should be familiar with if you own a bird:

To the uninitiated, this seems downright cruel. After all, you’re essentially trimming a part of your bird’s beak off! But as Dr Laurie Hess of PetMD recommends, it’s an important procedure for pet birds that do not have the same lifestyles as their wild cousins. “In the wild, birds have many opportunities to wear down their beaks as they hunt for and gather food and build nests,” she says. “Pet birds generally do not have these same opportunities; therefore, sometimes their beaks overgrow from underuse.”

However, know that what is considered an overgrown beak in one species is actually normal in another. Some birds—among them Pionus parrots and certain species of macaw — have traditionally longer upper beaks that are often mistaken as overgrown at normal length.

To be sure, always consult your vet and never attempt to do a beak trim yourself. The tip of the beak is filled with nerve endings, making any awry trim a painful affair.

The glorious plumage of your pet bird has to be cared for as well. Besides keeping your feathered friend feeling fresh, a bath also keeps the bird free of pesky fleas and/ or dirt. Depending on how dirty your bird is, you might be able to clean it simply by misting it with water, which is widely considered the most appropriate feather spray.

And do allow your bird time to air dry naturally, instead of blasting the hair dryer, which can lead to unnecessary accidents and stress for your pet.

Bird feet are often overlooked but they should be given the same attention as its other body parts. In the wild, birds shed their scaly feet regularly, but this process is often hindered in captivity. This can in turn can cause a bird’s feet to become enlarged, misshapen, and even crippled at times. Avoid this by scraping off any accumulation of scales you find on your bird’s feet with your finger.

In most cases, the scales will come off easily. Rubbing your bird’s feet with a little olive oil will also help to loosen the scales so they can be shed more easily.

Clipping a bird’s wings remains controversial, with opponents of the practice calling it cruel and inhumane. But as Dr Hess puts it, “wing trimming can be a helpful training tool and may prevent life-threatening injury for some birds. It is not right for all birds, however.”

Check with your vet before proceeding and engage a professional.