Ask Lafeber


November 22, 2021

Grooming a bird

When it comes to showering / nail trimming a rescued bird that is super duper phobic and aggressive, are these things essential to stay on top of? Or should they be skipped until the relationship is worked on? Some parrot “experts” tell me I have to force the bird to bathe /get it’s nails trimmed as they say these things are essential to the bird’s health, but others tell me its best not to damage trust and so to hold off on these things.


Hi Cassandra,

As far as bathing a bird, most will take care of themselves. Some birds will bathe in a water dish. Some enjoy being misted by a plant sprayer. If you bird doesn’t enjoy this, don’t force it. Bids groom their feathers and either distribute oil or powder on them as a protectant – it depends on the species as to whether they have an oil gland or powder down. Birds rarely need to be given a bath unless something has caused them to be contaminated, or maybe they were rescued from filthy conditions.

As for trimming the nails, most of the time the nails get too sharp before they are too long. It doesn’t sound like you can handle the bird, so unless she is getting her nails caught in the cage bars or toys, then she is fine. If the nails get long enough to curl in an unnatural way, then she needs a nail trim. But this should be done by a professional – typically the Vet – and it’s best that your bird can’t see or hear you during the grooming.

Always follow your instincts. The internet is full of self-proclaimed experts who often give out bad or dangerous advice. Rely on experts who have a professional background in birds, such as Avian Vets, technicians or other professionals who work with birds. Someone who happens to have a lot of birds might not be as informed as they think they are. Anyone who thinks they have nothing more to learn is among the least informed. Vets & technicians have to continue their education annually, throughout their careers. I’ve worked professionally with birds since the mid-‘80’s and I learn new things all the time! I’m always learning something during our weekly webinars.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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