Date: 22/11/18
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How to look after your bird's beak

The condition of your bird’s beak is a good indicator of their overall health. Learning to look out for abnormalities in the size, texture and colour of your bird’s beak will help you identify and resolve common health problems that can occur in pet birds. Below are a few of signs that your bird’s beak health is less than optimal, what the likely cause is and how to fix it:

1. FLAKY BEAK

A common problem particularly amongst exotic species. A bird’s beak should be smooth without any peeling or unusual textures. A flaky beak is usually a sign of a vitamin deficiency so you may need to make changes to your bird’s diet to ensure it is getting the right balance of nutrients. Like humans, birds need variety in their diet so if you are just feeding your bird pelleted food, start to introduce some whole foods such as fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds. Consult with your avian vet for guidance on what to feed your feathered friend.  

2. OVERGROWN BEAK

This is a more tricky one to diagnose. Like fingernails, a bird’s beak continually grows throughout their life and this is completely healthy and natural. However, keeping the beak at an appropriate length and shape is essential to avoid discomfort and to make it easy for the bird to perform its daily actions such as eating, climbing and grooming. Domesticated birds are more susceptible to overgrown beaks than wild birds, who naturally wear down their beaks through hunting and gathering for food. To further complicate matters, an overgrown beak can also be the result of more serious health problems such as infections of the beak tissue, trauma, liver disease or developmental abnormalities. Consult with your vet as to what the proper beak length is for your pet’s species. If your bird does have an overgrown beak, your vet will be able to assess if the overgrowth is due to a more serious health issue or if your bird's beak simply requires regular trimming to keep it in tip-top shape. Providing your bird with plenty of toys to chew on will also help them keep their beak trim. Cuttlebones, wooden blocks, ropes and mineral pieces are all great options to add to your bird’s cage.  

See also - How to look after your bird

3. DISCOLOURATION

The most likely scenario is bruising caused by injury. If your bird has been flying into windows or having tussles with another bird then chances are it has damaged its beak in the process. Discolouration can also be caused by infection or ongoing inflammation which is more difficult to diagnose and treat. If you notice discolouration in your birdie’s beak make a visit to the vet to get a professional assessment. The beak of a bird is its prized tool - used for eating, preening, picking up objects, scouring for food and feeding young. Keep your bird happy and performing at its peak by monitoring their beak health.
 

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