Beak Grooming

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A bird beak is a marvelous versatile tool. It’s used to grip, grind, grab, groom, attack, defend, crush, crack, pry, feed young, make noise and show affection. A birds beak must function normally to ensure his survival. The beak contains nerves and a blood supply, and is composed of hollow bone. It has sinuses on the inside, and the outside is covered with a thin layer of keratin.

The beak does not grow from the tip, as some people believe: it grows from the widest point, where it is attached to the head. As it grows, the layer of keratin begins to flake and peel. This is normal growth activity and does not indicate a problem or illness. If the appearance of the flaking is disconcerting, it may be remedied by using an emery board for light “sanding”. This process requires good handling skills and should only be done by an experienced person.

Normally the act of chewing will keep a bird’s beak worn down to an acceptable size. The hinge like action of the upper and lower mandibles is beneficial in maintaining proper length. If for some reason the mandibles are not properly aligned, the beak may become misshapen and overgrown. If this occurs the beak must be trimmed periodically to maintain function. I would strongly recommend only a professional perform this. A bird’s beak that has been improperly trimmed could interfere with his ability to eat.

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