Birds are mostly delicate, and can bite and scratch when handled incorrectly. If
your bird is unwell, great care is needed as any undue stress could be fatal for them.
Here are some tips on how to handle your bird when sick:
1. Approach the bird quietly in its cage or enclosure. If it is tame, offer your hand or
finger for it to step onto.
2. If your bird is having difficulty moving from the perch, gently offer your hand and
then with your other hand gently cup its body from the back whilst keeping the
wings hugging its body.
3. You may require gloves for large, powerful or aggressive birds.
4. If your bird is small, like canaries or budgerigars, allow it to pop its head up between
your second and third finger with its beak facing away from your hand. Cup the
body with your hand while covering the back of the bird. Allow the bird to stand and
grasp your pinkie finger to support its body weight.
5. It is important not to compress your bird’s body, particularly if it is stressed or has
difficulty breathing. The bird should be able to freely turn its head from side to side
within your fingers but should not be able to reach down to bite.
6. If it tries to bite you, extend your fingers gently, which will also extend the bird's
neck and head to make biting more difficult.
7. Examine the front part of the bird, including palpation of the crop if necessary, to
check if it has been feeding.
8. If you have a larger bird, hold its head between your thumb and index finger and
hold its body against your chest with slight pressure. Allow the feet to grip your
other hand or another object so as to minimize scratches.
9. For aggressive large birds or injured wild birds, you can use a towel by placing it
over the bird. Always keep the bird upright and facing away from you to ensure the
talons/claws don’t scratch you.
10. If you notice that the bird is getting overly stressed, just let it go so that it can
recover. Birds can get heart attacks from too much stress.
11. To examine inside the bird’s mouth, you can use a cotton tip to pry the beak open. If
the beak will not open or the bird tries to chew the cotton tip, hold its head in one
hand between your thumb and index finger and use the other hand to gently pinch
the skin underneath the lower beak to pull the beak open.
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