Parakeets are fastidiously clean creatures, but that doesn't mean you're off the hook with grooming. Regularly grooming your bird ensures that his skin, feathers and nails all stay healthy and clean. Not all parakeets react similarly to grooming measures like bathing, so you may have to experiment to see how your bird prefers to get clean.
If your parakeet's nails grow too long, they can make it difficult for him to climb and stand securely on a perch. Trimming his nails ensures they don't become overgrown and dangerous. Inside his nails, you can sometimes see a vein called the quick. It's important that a trained professional, such as an avian veterinarian, perform your bird's nail trim so that the quick isn't nicked, which can cause bleeding and discomfort.
Bathing and Misting
Parakeets react differently to bathing and misting -- some love it, while others strongly dislike it. Every day, provide him with a fresh, shallow pan of lukewarm water. Some birds will gladly jump right it, splashing and cleaning themselves off. Change it every day whether or not it's been used. You may also try misting your bird with warm water. Fill a squirt bottle with water and spray the air directly above your parakeet -- if he spreads his wings, he enjoys the misting. If he folds them up and tucks in his head, he'd rather you stop.
Feather trimming should always be performed by a professional, and while it's optional, it may make it easier to manage your bird's behavior. Parakeets move quickly, especially when they're excited, and trimming their feathers prevents them from taking full flight. This means that while they can still navigate the cage and glide to a gentle landing outside of it, they won't take to the skies and stay there. This makes it easier to control your parakeet's behavior outside the cage, preventing escapes and accidents with ceiling fans, hot stoves and other household hazards.
While you should have your parakeet's nails trimmed and talk to a professional about feather trimming, bathing is less universally required. If your parakeet prefers to stay out of the bird bath, don't worry -- that doesn't mean he doesn't want to be clean. Parakeets use their beaks to distribute natural oils across their bodies, keeping themselves well-groomed even without hopping in a bath. Even if he doesn't like being misted, give him a warm misting once a week as a supplement to his own grooming -- he may even grow to like it.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.