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Dancing Senegal Parrot


Type: Senegal Parrot
Genus: Poicephalus
Species: Senegalus
Subspecies: Mesotypus
Sex: Female
Weight: 120 grams
Height: 9 inches
Age: 15 years, 11 months
Caped Cape Parrot


Type: Cape Parrot
Genus: Poicephalus
Subspecies: Fuscicollis
Sex: Male
Weight: 330 grams
Height: 13 inches
Age: 14 years, 2 months
Blue and Gold Macaw


Type: Blue & Gold Macaw
Genus: Ara
Sex: Female
Weight: 850 grams
Height: 26 inches
Age: 11 years, 11 months
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List of Common Parrots:

Budgerigar (Budgie)
Alexandrine Parakeet
African Ringneck
Indian Ringneck
Monk Parakeet (Quaker Parrot)

Mexican Parrotlet
Green Rumped Parrotlet
Blue Winged Parrotlet
Spectacled Parrotlet
Dusky Billed Parrotlet
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Yellow Faced Parrotlet

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Black Cheeked Lovebird
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Rainbow Lorikeet

Sun Conure
Jenday Conure
Cherry Headed Conure
Blue Crowned Conure
Mitred Conure
Patagonian Conure
Green Cheeked Conure
Nanday Conure

Black Headed Caique
White Bellied Caique

Poicephalus Parrots:
Senegal Parrot
Meyer's Parrot
Red Bellied Parrot
Brown Headed Parrot
Jardine's Parrot
Cape Parrot
Ruppell's Parrot

Eclectus Parrot

African Greys:
Congo African Grey (CAG)
Timneh African Grey (TAG)

Blue Fronted Amazon
Yellow Naped Amazon
Yellow Headed Amazon
Orange Winged Amazon
Yellow Crowned Amazon

Galah (Rose Breasted) Cockatoo
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Umbrella Cockatoo
Moluccan Cockatoo
Bare Eyed Cockatoo
Goffin's Cockatoo

Red Shouldered (Hahn's) Macaw
Severe Macaw
Blue And Gold Macaw
Blue Throated Macaw
Military Macaw
Red Fronted Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Green Winged Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw

Glossary of Common Parrot Terms

How to Trim a Parrot's Nails

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By Michael Sazhin

Monday March 25th, 2024

Parrots have claws which can grow quite sharp. When and how should you trim your parrot's nails? This guide is all about nail trimming for any size parrot from a Cockatiel to a Macaw. Let's dive into proper parrot grooming.

With use, the claws naturally trim and maintain themselves. However, in the cage and human environment, the parrot may not be exposed to sufficient activity to keep the toenails from overgrowing.

There are two problems with letting a pet parrot's nail become too long. First, they can be come uncomfortably long for the bird making it difficult to perch or walk. Excessively long nails are also more likely to get caught in a toe or break off. The other reason really long nails can be a problem is when you or your family hold the bird. Those talons can dig right into your hand and hurt you. So, for these reasons, we want to keep the claws from becoming too long or too sharp.

Long vs short parrot nails comparison photo
Comparing excessively long vs properly trimmed parrot nails

The easiest way to keep your parrot's nails from becoming too long is to provide a grooming perch in the cage. The Parrot Wizard Grooming Geo NU Perch is ideal because it is smooth on top and abrasive on the bottom. This helps dull the claws but without being sharp on the skin of the foot. Always mount with the smooth side facing up and the rough side facing down. Avoid grooming perches that are rough on all sides.

Mount a grooming perch in the cage where it receives moderate use. Do not mount the perch at a high spot or the parrot will spend all day on it and overuse it. Mounting the grooming perch by the water is the best way to guarantee it receives daily use but not excessive. Furthermore, parrots like to rub their beak after eating or drinking on the hard perch.

Senegal Parrot on a Grooming GEO NU Perch
A grooming perch in the cage can help keep parrot nails from growing too quickly

Although a grooming perch will help slow down nail growth, it likely will not eliminate it entirely. A grooming perch will generally be good for making a manual nail trim last longer. Since trimming your parrot's nails is challenging, making them last longer with a grooming perch is a great idea.

How do you know when your parrot's nails need a trimming? Either when they are so long/sharp that they cause you discomfort when holding your parrot or when the claws are so long that the parrot cannot stand properly on a flat surface. If the claws are so long that the pads of the foot are lifted off the surface, the nails are definitely too long and need a trim.

Photo of excessively long parrot nails also known as claws or talons
Excessively long parrot nails can be painful to hold on your hand and the parrot may have trouble walking

If you are unsure or uncomfortable grooming your parrot's nails yourself, have them done by an avian veterinarian or professional bird groomer. Handling the bird may be stressful. Cutting too much off can leave the nail bleeding profusely. For these reasons, I do not recommend common pet owners to cut their parrot's nails with scissors themselves. Instead, a much safer way to groom your parrot's nails yourself at home is with a Nail Trimmer Stone.

Filing your parrot's nails is less forceful, less stressful, less painful, and nearly impossible to do harm. By nature, the process is slower and less invasive than cutting the nails. When properly trained to allow voluntary nail trims, your parrot will let you know before you take too much off. Even without the warning signs, bleeding starts gradually when filing and is much more likely to stop on its own or be easily stopped. Have some quick stop powder or corn starch nearby just in case there is any bleeding.

Grooming a Blue and Gold Macaw with a Nail Trimmer Stone
Filing your parrot's nails can help trim them and be less stressful than a forceful grooming

The great thing about grooming your parrot's nails yourself is that it can be much less forceful and stressful on the parrot. Nothing says you have to trim all 8 nails in one session (yes, parrots have 8 nails! Four toes on each foot). You can trim just one nail per day and still be done in just over a week. But, you don't even have to file each nail down right to the desired length. It is possible to file them down just part of the way and then repeat the process later. This makes grooming sessions shorter, less grueling, and much easier.

Photo of parrot nails trimmed to the proper length
Properly trimmed parrot nails will be easy to hold, not lift the foot off a surface, and still provide adequate grip

Teaching your parrot voluntary nail trim is the best way to make it go smoothly. You can use positive reinforcement to gradually teach your bird to offer you its foot by itself for filing. Initially, this isn't about grooming at all. In fact, don't even hold a nail trimmer. Just teach your parrot to walk over and give you the foot. This is a lot like teaching the wave or high five trick.

Don't just take your parrot's foot. Make sure your parrot is eagerly walking across a perch and lifting its foot toward you. This eagerness helps the bird overcome the slight discomfort of a gentle trimming. Be sure to use a Parrot Training Perch for these exercises. This kind of stand is simple, height adjustable, and helps the bird focus on training. Ask your parrot to give foot and give a treat when it does.

Here is a video about how to know if your parrot's nails are too long and how to go about trimming them:

Once the parrot is good at giving you its foot, don't immediately jump to trimming them. Instead, gradually desensitize your bird to the nail trimmer by showing it closer and closer while holding the foot. Eventually you will be able to gently touch the trimmer to the nail. And with a little more practice, gently drag it across the nail. You may not be doing any significant removal at this stage, but the bird is still fully cooperative and content. Gradually apply more pressure and file for longer on each nail before granting a treat. View some in depth videos about the entire nail trimming process here.

How to Trim Clip Groom Parrot Nail Claw Talon
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Trained Parrot is a blog about how to train tricks to all parrots and parakeets. Read about how I teach tricks to Truman the Brown Necked Cape Parrot including flight recall, shake, wave, nod, turn around, fetch, wings, and play dead. Learn how you can train tricks to your Parrot, Parrotlet, Parakeet, Lovebird, Cockatiel, Conure, African Grey, Amazon, Cockatoo or Macaw. This blog is better than books or DVDs because the information is real, live, and completely free of charge. If you want to know how to teach your parrot tricks then you will enjoy this free parrot training tutorial.
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