Safety Tips for Handling Parrots

Green Parrot sits on shoulder
Nataliya Ford / Getty Images

Unlike cats and dogs, parrots and other pet birds are not domesticated, and this means that they require specialized methods of care that many people aren't familiar with. Handling a bird, for example, is a lot different from handling a domesticated animal, and if it's not done correctly, it can be dangerous for both the bird and its owner.

If you are new to keeping pet birds, then don't miss the information on safe handling below. Taking the time to make sure that you handle your bird safely and correctly can go a long way in making sure that both you and your bird stay safe and enjoy a long and satisfying relationship together.

  • 01 of 05

    Never Squeeze a Pet Bird

    Parrot in small hands / Getty Images

    While it is sometimes necessary to hold a bird firmly if you need to trim its nails, clip its wings, or perform another type of necessary procedure, it is important to remember that it is never okay to squeeze a bird.

    Birds have fragile skeletons and delicate respiratory systems. Squeezing them too much can cause broken bones, organ damage, and any other number of problems that can lead to severe injury or a bird's sudden death. Keep your bird safe by never putting too much pressure on any part of its body.

  • 02 of 05

    Teach Your Bird to "Step Up"

    Floridapfe from S.Korea Kim in cherl / Getty Images

    Teaching your bird to step up can go a long way toward helping you handle your bird safely. Birds who refuse to step onto their owners' fingers often have to be toweled or grabbed when it's time for them to come out of the cage, putting them at risk for injury and severe stress.

    If your bird doesn't know the step up command, then you should start teaching him to perform this function as soon as possible. Any bird owner will tell you that it is the single most important thing that you can teach your feathered friend.

  • 03 of 05

    Don't Allow a Parrot to Sit on Your Shoulder

    Young happy veterinarian with a parrot on her shoulder.

    BraunS / Getty Images

    Although movies and TV shows often show parrots perching happily on their owners' shoulders, there are several reasons why this is not a good idea. For one thing, even the tamest and friendliest birds are capable of biting if they become startled or otherwise upset.

    Allowing a bird to sit on your shoulder puts them directly at face level with you, and puts you in great danger of sustaining a horrendous bite if something should go wrong. Prevent this sort of accident by holding your bird on your hand or forearm at a safe distance from your face and ears.

  • 04 of 05

    Keep Your Bird's Wings Clipped

    A scarlet Macaw spreads its wings.
    Tim Pratt / Getty Images

    Although it may not seem like it at first, clipping your bird's wings can help a great deal when it comes to handling your bird safely. Birds who have clipped wings quickly learn that they aren't capable of flight, so they will often become more dependent on their owners, sticking to them like glue when they are out of the cage.

    Birds who are not clipped may be prone to trying to take flight when they are being held, leading owners to grab at them out of instinct. Since birds are so physically fragile, this can cause severe injuries. Clipping your bird's wings will help minimize such a risk.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Guard Your Jewelry and Accessories

    Bird (White Parrot) talking into a woman's ear.
    Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images

    A final thing to keep in mind when learning to hold a bird safely is that birds love to bite and pick at small, shiny objects—so your rings, earrings, necklaces, and other jewelry will be pretty much irresistible to them.

    More than one unfortunate bird owner can attest to what can happen if your feathered friend decides to go for an earring or another type of piercing. Play it safe by removing all jewelry before handling your pet bird, and keep a couple of safe bird toys on hand to keep your pet distracted.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.