Saturday, February 29, 2020

Parrot pedicure

For some time now, we've been concerned because Younger Daughter's Quaker parrot, Lihn, had an overgrown beak.

So today Older Daughter and I packed Lihn into her small traveling cage and took off for a bird specialist in Spokane.

A group of young people -- honestly, none of them looked older than 25 -- operate a sort of parrot clinic on Saturdays in Spokane. These folks had been trained by the regional parrot expert, Sparky (of Sparky's Bird Store, an amazing establishment) and had taken over all of the beak trimming the store used to offer.

This private home was something of a miniature Sparky's, absolutely dripping with gigantic macaws and a selection of smaller parrots (an African Gray and assorted others I couldn't identify). The noise -- remember, we're talking macaws -- was incredible. Lihn, unused to such cacophony, froze in alarm.

Once inside, I was suddenly dive-bombed by an unknown bird which landed on my back. The employees (three women, one man) all burst out laughing, plucked the culprit off my back, and put it up on a door, where it observed the proceedings from on high. (You'll notice the top of the door looks well chewed.)

Well let me tell you, these folks knew what they were doing. One woman took Lihn out of her cage and started rolling her pin feathers free, something Lihn would only let Younger Daughter do. They were fearless and confident in how they handled her. Lihn was like butter in their hands, sweet and docile. (Or maybe scared to death. Either way, she behaved herself.)

They asked if we wanted her wings clipped, but I said no. We let Lihn out of her cage in the evenings (when Mr. Darcy is in another room), and she likes to fly around. Clipping her wings would deprive her of that exercise.

Two of the young women wrapped Lihn in a blue cloth, then started in on her nails, which weren't bad but could always use a bit of trimming. Literally a parrot pedicure, since after trimming they buffed the nails.

Then they moved to Lihn's beak.

Using a Dremmel with a soft buffing tip, they ground away at her beak, reshaping it. Frankly if I was in Lihn's shoes, I'd have been terrified. But she was calm and quiet throughout. Doubtless the blue towel helped.

The women took their time and did an excellent job.

While this was going on, Older Daughter made a friend. And I mean this bird wouldn't let her go.

We could do anything to this magnificent bird -- move her from arm to hand to shoulder, scratch her on the head, neck, or chest, or anything else. She was a beautiful creature.

But another macaw in the room was less friendly, and we were warned to stay well away from him. This other bird emitted ear-piercing shrieks so frequently that sometimes we had to shout to be heard. (I think this, more than anything else, is what freaked Lihn out.)

We got a brief tour and history of the birds in the room. Most were rescues, either from abusive and/or neglectful situations, or from people who reluctantly gave them up for housing reasons (macaws are often unwelcome in apartments because of the disturbance to other residents). All were lovingly cared for by this remarkable group of dedicated young people.

But the noise level was incredible. Coming from such a quiet home, Lihn looked frozen. When we bundled her up with a blanket around her cage and returned to the car, she looked positively shell-shocked. It took her quite a long time to relax, and then she slept a lot on the way home, doubtless exhausted.

Still, she looks so much better with that beak trimmed!

And methinks she's glad to be back in her home cage.


  1. Lihn looks fantastic and I'm sure she feels much better!

  2. That was very interesting. I didn't know that any bird needed this trimming.

  3. I hear you. I have had way too many of my exotic birds to the vet because of toe nail and beak over growth. I'm sure this doesn't happen in the wild but I didn't know what else to do. It was before the days of the internet so that was no help.

  4. I had a blue-fronted amazon parrot years ago. His beak grew, but every so often the tip would just snap off. I never had to have it ground off. He was very low maintenance.

  5. My grandfather got a Polly Parrot when he was 12. She lived through his growing up years, his first marriage (To his Swiss wife, Rosa) and their 17 children, his 2nd marriage to my grandmother (English/Irish, Ada), their 12 children, his death, my grandmothers death, and survived to a grand old age of 150-or could have been more. The bird was incredible! She knew German (grandpa's first language), English in American, English, and Irish dialects, French spoken with Rosa's Swiss accent, and could swear fluently in any of those languages. My aunt Jerry hated her violin lessons, so she taught Polly to answer when the music teacher knocked on the door. Then Polly would say "Get the hell out of here! I don't know you!" The music teacher would go running and neither parent knew why. Every morning she would demand her coffee with Karo syrup bread-evidently a favorite of my grandfather's. My mother was the only redhead in all of the kids and Polly loved her unconditionally. Everytime she saw my mom, she would yell "There's my Red Head!". Polly hated me; I suspect by that time she'd had enough of kids. I always tell parrot people to make plans in their wills, cuz parrots live a long, long time! -Stealth Spaniel

  6. Wow. That sounds like quite an experience. The world is a better place thanks to people like that.