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Canary's first pedicure story

SunnyDay

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Hi! I wanted to share my first nail trimming experience and would love to hear your feedback and all about your own experiences. I also wanted to write this for anyone trimming their bird's nails for the first time and who might be looking for stories to read. Other people’s stories really helped me build my confidence and understand what to expect.

I've never held Sunny or any bird before. He's had 1 previous nail trim done by my partner, but unfortunately we've been separated due to Covid travel restrictions since October, him being in France and me in the UK so I had to bite the bullet and do it myself. There's a lovely ex-veterinary nurse in my town who used to make house-calls, but she's stopped working during the pandemic. Going to a vet was also an option, but I really wanted to take on this responsibility myself - he is my lovely baby bird, after all.

I'll be honest - I was very nervous. I was apprehensive about how his wings flapping against my hands might feel, if he would bite (if it would hurt - it didn't!), if I would hold him wrong etc etc. I had a lot of fears but a determined attitude. Those nails had to be trimmed!

I let him fly around for quite a while first to tire him out. I also waited until later in the afternoon when I knew he would be less active and in a calmer mind-set. I actually just sat next to his cage with my arm and hand inside for quite a while, which he found a little freaky at first but surprisingly, he allowed me to gently stroke his back and side once or twice. We just took it slowly. I read on other websites you should grab and cut as quickly as possible to eliminate prolonged amounts of stress, but this didn't feel right to me. In hindsight, I partly agree with quickening the process (I'll reveal why shortly) but given I was a novice at catching a frightened bird, I felt the grab and cut approach would only go wrong and I'd cause more harm than good, not to mention my own apprehension about holding him in the first place.

Once my hand had brushed against him a few times, I realised it didn't feel so scary after all. He also resisted less when I approach from above, rather than from the side (maybe because he couldn't see my hand). I tried a couple of times to gently catch him, but he slipped straight out of my hand so I wrapped a little towel around my hand and actually managed to catch him just fine. Having the cloth over my skin also reduced my own anxiety. I suppose you could say I felt more 'protected'. I made sure his back was against my palm and his chest and legs were exposed.

I took him over to the little light I had set up and managed to gently hold his fragile leg between my fingers. I shined the light on the nail and looked for the vein. I cut the nail about 3mm below the vein, as I preferred to cut too little than too much! He lost about 3-4mm of nail, so they were overdue for a trim. He nipped my finger twice - it didn't hurt and he didn't pierce the skin. It surprised me, but not enough to let him go, which would have happened if he'd caused any pain.

I don't have the best eyesight these days so it took a little while to find each vein and make the appropriate cut. I also noticed that he was getting very warm in my hand. I'd say this was where things started to take a turn for the worse...

I stopped trimming (I'd finished, anyway) and noticed his eyes were closing. I relaxed my hand in panic, wondering whether I was squeezing him (although I was quite cautious about my grip so didn't think I was squashing him). He opened his eyes and wriggled, so I relaxed and held him steady to give one last check that his nails were good, but within a few seconds he had closed his eyes again and gone limp. I was absolutely freaked out. I immediately opened my hand and just stared at my lifeless bird and said to my son, "oh my goodness, he's dead!". I can't explain the horror I felt - I had killed my Sunny. :sad1:

I laid him gently in his cage on the paper towel and stepped back. My son and I stared, not knowing what to do. Would I bury him in the garden? Would I be charged with animal cruelty? Had he had a heart attack? Maybe he was sleeping? Moments passed that felt like minutes. Then he opened his eyes...

Sunny jumped up onto his feet! He flew up to his perch, shook his feathers, hopped around, gave me the look of death, and plopped his belly onto the branch. What an almighty relief.

He was pretty quiet for the rest of the day, ignoring me entirely and refusing to sing (I've never missed his war sounds as much as I did that day). I wondered if he'd ever forgive me. We all went to bed feeling bad and didn't sleep particularly well.

The next morning I approached his cage with caution, just in case he was still angry with me, but no grudge was barred and he blasted into tweets, skipping and hopping and interacting with me as if nothing had happened the day before. I opened the door and he made two full circles of the living room before plopping himself down next to me and belting out a song. Everything had turned out okay in the end.

So that was mine and Sunny's first pedicure experience. On reflection, I wished I had been able to do things a lot faster as I clearly caused Sunny an enormous amount of stress. But it hasn't deterred me and I've learned so much from the experience. It has built my confidence and given me knowledge of how to do this better next time. I would love to hear your thoughts about how to make the nail trimming experience smoother, and also hear your stories and what you did differently the second time (if anything).

Thanks for reading!

Charlotte and Sunny
 

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Sunni Tiel

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Oh wow! Scary! I haven't had to trim Sunni's nails yet. Not looking forward to it, :nervous::roflmao:
 

Hankmacaw

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I've trimmed all of my parrots' nails for twenty three years - nothing scary about it - not even the first time. And I have macaws. Big ones.

I's something that must be done and it's much better that you do it than to take your bird to some idiot who isn't careful or doesn't really know what they are doing.
 

AussieBird

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I've trimmed all of my parrots' nails for twenty three years - nothing scary about it - not even the first time. And I have macaws. Big ones.

I's something that must be done and it's much better that you do it than to take your bird to some idiot who isn't careful or doesn't really know what they are doing.
Hmmm... I've been noticing some long budgie nails, but am worried about losing trust. Maybe I just need to hurry up and do it.

I have no problems with the nail cutting side of it, it's the trust part. Do you towel?
 

Hankmacaw

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Never had to towel with Hank and Jasper (now deceased). I would just cajole them into letting me do it. Hank liked to lay on his back so I would just lay him on his back on the counter and clip away. Jasper would let me hold her feet up while standing and let me clip - complaining all the time.

My new girl, Kitty, is a crazy lady and we are a long way away from that.

You need to push the envelope now and then or they will never get gentler. Don't hurt him or scare him, but just push the boundaries a little regularly.
 

Twinkle*

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8/27/17
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Thank you for posting this. I have just rescued/rehomed my poorly nans 4 java sparrows and they all desperatly needed there nails done. I have now caught and clipped all birds nails and they seem much happier for it :) it is nerve racking with them being so small and delicate but having everything set up ready to catch and clip with a craft lamp for lighting made it quick and easy. Think i was a nervous as the birds lol

How bad the birds nails where
20210306_092325.jpg 20210306_092412.jpg
 

TMS9539

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Terri
I agree that it's best to do it as quickly as possible. The first time I did my canaries (I have three) I thought I had killed one of them from the stress too. But she bounced back and was fine. I still am scared to death that they'll wiggle at the wrong moment and I'll end of cutting off a foot. It hasn't happened, but clipping the nails is definitely my least favorite thing to do. I think it stresses me out at least as much as it does them.
 
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