Grooming Your Cockatiel

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I finally got up the nerve this morning to tackle trimming the nails of Daniel's cockatiel, Nick. He used to be a sweet bird, honest. He would ride around on Daniel's shoulder and perch on his head. But we've ruined him. Now he's a nasty little SOB, hence, me putting off this long overdue task. To be sure of what I was doing, I got out our cockatiel book and reviewed the section entitled "Grooming Your Cockatiel".


cockatiels
Image: Drew Avery via Flickr

Follow along with me, won't you?

"Fortunately, cockatiels are relatively easy to care for when it comes to grooming."
Oh good, because I really don't have a whole lot of time this morning.

"You may want to enlist the aid of a helper while clipping your bird's nails."
Oh shoot. They're all at work/school. That's OK, I'll be fine on my own.

"When the bird is secure, use a sharp clipper to cut the excess nail off"
OK, now we've got a problem. "When the bird is secure". How does one secure a fiesty, scrappy, cussin', flailin' cockatiel with the wingspan of a condor?

"Trim only the tip of the nail where it is hooked."
From this I can only assume the author has only trimmed dead cockatiels.

"The main concern with clipping the nails is that you avoid the quick - the blood vessel deep within the nail."
Oh sh--.

Now I've got a bleeding screaming cockatiel who keeps twisting out of the old t-shirt I've got him wrapped in. Everytime I try to get a look at his claws (sorry, nails) to see if I've gotten them all, he hides his feet with his wings or his beak or twists around some more and calls me an ugly name. I'm pretty sure he's only got 6 (maybe 8) toes or whatever they are, but at times I'm sure I'm counting 20.

I finally decide it's good enough and get him back in his cage, relieved that the job is behind me. But then Nick's mood switches from seething anger to the indignant depression of a martyr. Instead of sitting pertly on his bar, he slumps morosely on the floor of his cage. He fluffs his feathers, trembles slightly. I start to worry. He doesn't look good. His talon (sorry, nail) is still bleeding.

My left arm for a styptic pencil!

I know, I thought. I'll give him his millet spray. This bird would walk over hot coals for millet spray. I hang it in his cage but he doesn't even look at it. He fluffs his feathers some more.
Instead of going about my business and checking off the things on my To-Do list, I find busy work where I can watch him. He's unchanged, so I scurry to the other room to Google cockatiels to find out how I've killed him and if he can still be saved. All the while I'm wondering to myself if, when Nick dies, I will have time to purchase an identical cockatiel and teach it Nick's full repertoire of whistles before Daniel arrives home from school. Not finding the help I need from the computer, I sneak back to the other room and peek in on him. The bastard is eating his millet, but when he sees me he retreats to the corner and fluffs his feathers.

I scream in my empty house, "I'm on to you!"

I think I need to get out more.
 
~Anne Kimball blogs at Bringing Borya Home

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