Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leonard gets a Pedicure

Yesterday we talked in general about the Spice Finch.  Now, let's talk about Leonard. 

Leonard, a Spice Finch,  lives with Pearl, a Society Finch.  (Interesting tidbit:  both Spice and Society finches are not dimorphic.  In other words, it's hard to tell males from females because they look very similar.)

Pearl and Leonard get along fine.  Better than fine- they are pals- evidenced by the fact that they groom each other, frequently sit close together when perching, and at night they sleep nestled together in their grit cup.

Leonard and Pearl
One of the necessary husbandry chores required when keeping finches is periodically trimming their nails.  While it is pretty easy to trim a bird's nails, it is not without its challenges. 
If the bird has light colored nails, the quick is visible, which helps a great deal in avoiding cutting it.  If you do cut the quick, the bleeding is rarely severe enough to endanger the bird.  Furthermore, dipping the injured nail in a clump of corn starch is effective at stopping the bleeding almost immediately.
Birds don't usually hold still to get their nails trimmed.  You have to hold them still.  
My method for trimming nails is to do it in the cage.  That way if the bird escapes your hold, he can be easily re caught and the trimming continued.  Some cages have multiple small doors whereby you can put one arm in one door and one arm through the other, your hands meet inside the cage.  You hold the bird with one hand and clipper in the other.  The job can be done in cages with larger doors too.  For that, you shove your arms in the cage and press your torso against the door opening to block the exit.  The cage method is soothing to me because I worry about gripping the bird too hard and crushing his delicate bones, therefore my hold on the bird is very light, thus birds escape my grip with regularity.  Happily, with the bird safely in a cage, when he slips out of my grasp he is contained- not flying about the room into whirling ceiling fan blades. 
Which brings us back to Leonard.  A few weeks ago, I trimmed Leonard's nails.  He has sort of beige nails but with good light and reading glasses, the quick can be seen.  There I was holding Leonard gently in the palm of my left hand, with one of his legs between my left thumb and pinkie finger.  Right hand wielded the clippers (There are scissors style bird nail clippers available. I prefer people  nail clippers as they are shorter which I find makes it easier to control the aim of the blade).  Snip snip.  So far so good.  Then Leonard squirmed out of my hand.  He fled to the far corner of the cage. To my dismay, lying in my left hand were his tail feathers!  So much for my light touch. 
There's good news, though.  It's been about 3 weeks since Leonard's de tailing.  The picture above was taken a few days ago. You'll notice he has tail feathers!


  1. Hey! Gimmie back my tail feathers!


  2. Try clipping a full grown parrot's nails. I've been trimming my African Grey's nails for close to 30 years now, and it's gradually gotten easier, to where I dont always need to wear gloves. In the beginning he would chomp down fiercely after every clip, but now he finally realizes it will be over soon and it's really not that bad. It helped to clip my own nails in front of him a lot, and since he thinks he's human now he wants to do what I do.