Pet Bird Beak Health and Trimming

February 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The practice of beak trimming is somewhat controversial, and in making up your mind as to whether or not to trim your bird’s beak, it may be helpful to look at why a bird’s beak may need to be trimmed. The beak of a bird is made up of the jaw bone, which is covered by a sheath of keratin known as rhamphotheca. Keratin is the substance that our fingernails are made up of, and just as our fingernails continue to grow, a bird’s beak continues to grow throughout its lifetime. In the wild, this growth is worn down through the bird foraging for food, eating a hard diet, using its beak to climb, grooming activities and rubbing its beak on abrasive surfaces.

To ensure a healthy beak, provide your pet bird with a range of toys to chew, preferably something with different textures, such as a rope with pieces of wood, mineral blocks, pieces of leather and tough fabric attached to it. Most pet stores have these types of toys for sale, or you could make your own. Providing a cuttlefish is always a good idea. While some may advocate the use of sandpaper perch covers, others are against them as they may be too rough for the bird’s feet and cause problems. Rather see if you can find a cement perch, which is made specifically to ensure beak and nail health. Be sure to house your bird in a sturdy cage appropriate to its size, as biting through flimsy bars of a cage can cause damage to your bird’s beak. However, despite taking all these measures, at times a bird may develop problems with its beak overgrowing, and when this happens, it is imperative to go to an avian vet for an assessment and treatment, as there are some medical problems which can cause beak overgrowth.

Bearing in mind that the beak is used for climbing and playing, as well as for eating and obtaining nutrients for overall health, if a bird is developing beak problems, the quicker it is dealt with, the better. It is a good idea to check your bird’s beak on a daily basis, taking note of any cracks, discoloration, flaking or overgrowth. If your bird’s beak appears to be growing unevenly it could be an indication of an imbalance of nutrients in its diet, or even an underlying problem such as a liver disease. Even if the overgrowth has no medical cause, trimming a bird’s beak is best left to an expert to ensure a minimum of discomfort to your bird.

Should you be concerned about any aspect of your pet bird’s health, including beak overgrowth and abnormalities, nothing can substitute for the care and advice provided by a qualified avian veterinarian.

Showing and Displaying

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Preparation for showing and displaying of birds typically begins about four months before the date of the show. At this time you should decide which birds you are going to be showing and then place each bird in its own cage to prevent damage to feathers and so on. The birds chosen for showing and displaying should have good plumage, posture and have all their toes. Examine the birds daily to see if they are still in tip-top condition. Maintain show birds on a nutritious diet that will not allow them to become overweight.

Once you have chosen the birds for showing and displaying, begin a routine of bathing or spraying the birds with water daily. Closer to the date of the show clip claws and file beaks. Keep the cages thoroughly clean so that the bird does not soil its feathers. Begin spraying them with a soft mist of water as their showing condition improves. Two days prior to the show stop this spraying and allow natural oils to coat the birds’ feathers giving them a lovely sheen.

Prepare your birds for the show by familiarizing them with their show cages. This can be done by enticing them into the cage by means of treats. By using this method it will not be necessary to handle your show bird and there will be no risk of damage to feathers or injuries. Also get the bird accustomed to the cage being moved around and lots of noise as this is what they will encounter at the show.

On the day of the show make sure that your show cage is clean and sprinkle a layer of plain seed on the bottom of the cage. Also rather use a water bottle attached to the outside of the cage, You do not want food and water dishes obscuring the view of the judges whilst your bird is on display.

When you arrive you will have to register your birds. The stewards will ensure that you have the correct labels for the group you are entering into. Such labels should be properly displayed. The judges will be looking for shape, size, color and condition of the bird. Plumage is to be fully developed. Birds must look lively and active but not nervous. Once the judges have seen all the birds, prizes are awarded.

Showing and displaying birds can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Even if you do not win, you will have enjoyed the association of like-minded people, swopping stories and learning from one anothers experiences.

A Closer Look at Beak Problems

January 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Those of us fortunate enough to own one or more feathered friends will understand that it is always a good idea to have at least a basic knowledge of common bird ailments. Forewarned is forearmed, or so they say, and this is especially true when it comes to your bird’s beak. Birds use their beaks for numerous things, so anything could go wrong with it at virtually any time.

There are a surprising number of bird beak problems which occur fairly commonly across the globe. One of the most common is probably that of trauma. Pet birds can easily break or injure their beaks by engaging in activities such as fighting with other birds, chewing on electric cords, flying into windows or fans or trapping their beak between cage bars. They can even hurt them by falling accidentally onto a hard floor. As a result, the beak can be punctured, fractured or partially or completely torn off the face. If anything like this happens to your bird, it would be best to rush it to the vet immediately.

Another thing to look out for is infectious disease. There are a number of viral, parasitic, bacterial and fungal pathogens that can affect the bird’s beak directly or indirectly. Examples of this are psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), avian pox and scaly leg and face mites. None of them are pretty, but many of them are easily treatable with antibiotics and antifungal treatments.

Then there are those bird beak problems that occur at a much slower rate and may not be noticed until they are already quite well-developed. Some baby birds develop beak abnormalities early on, where their upper or lower beaks grow longer than they should. This is not great for the bird but can be fixed with dental appliances which are similar in application to human braces. Nutritional deficiencies can also cause beak problems, with scaly beaks or overgrown beaks being caused by inappropriate nutrition. Sometimes a bird’s beak can become soft or rubbery. It may take a while to notice these things, but once it has been spotted the bird should be put on a more appropriate diet so that it can recover.

One of the more serious bird beak problems to watch out for is that of cancer. Birds can develop squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma on their beaks which can manifest as an erosion or a discolored mass on the beak. If it is caught early enough it can usually be surgically removed. If you notice anything abnormal about your bird’s beak, the best thing to do is usually to contact the vet as soon as possible. Don’t waste time as you may miss a critical window period that could make all the difference.

CPR Saves Bird Lives

July 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Understanding the principles of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and being able to put these effectively into practice, could result in saving a life. CPR is used extensively for humans, and has a good success rate on domestic animals such as cats and dogs, but few bird owners are aware that CPR can be performed on their pet birds with very positive results.

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Why Birds Bite and How to Avoid it

November 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

It can be very disappointing to a bird owner when their beloved pet bird starts biting, often for no apparent reason. This may result in a reluctance to handle the bird, which in turn can lead to further behavioral problems. So why do birds bite and what can be done to overcome this problem?

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