Preening is a bird’s natural way of keeping clean, shiny feathers. This is when a bird nibbles and straitens its feathers to clean and smooth them. This is the natural way parakeets will clean and groom themselves. A parakeet will sometimes spend up to a quarter of the day preening. Parakeets will also preen when they’re sick (even if you know it) to make it look like they aren’t “vulnerable”. The following are pictures of a parakeet preening. On the rumps of parakeets, there is a nipple-like bump on their back called the oil gland. A parakeet will reach to this spot several times during the course of preening. This gland give out oily secretion that is smoothed over the feathers to help keep them more waterproof (below).
Some people think that clipping a bird’s wings is cruel. In my opinion, it’s more for the safety of it. Clipping your parakeet’s wings keeps it from flying into things, or flying away, this also means that it will have no choice but to stay with you. Then you can bond more efficiently. A lot of people think it hurts the bird, but it feels like you clipping your nails. The parakeet doesn’t feel a thing if done properly.
This is my method of clipping budgie wings; hold it in a towel a gently pull out one wing. On the underside of most birds there will be a white line going all across it. With regular scissors, clip a centimeter below that line. Then, do the same with the other wing. A lot of people also leave the last two primaries (The outmost wing feathers) uncut, just to look make it look a little better.
Every once in a while, your parakeets’ toenails will get to long and need to be clipped. This is a very important thing to do because very long toenails are just like little hooks, and they’ll hook on almost anything. Toys, carpet, couch, clothes, blankets, are just a few examples of the endless danger to long nails around the house. Parakeets in the wild naturally wear their nails down on branches, on the ground, on rocks etc… If this happens, especially without supervision, the parakeet will panic, twist and pull, chew and tangle, only to end up with broken bones (And I mean not only toes).
One extremely important thing to know when clipping parakeet’s nails is to know where the quick is (Shown in diagram below). The Quick is the blood flow inside the nail. Most parakeets will have a clear nail like the one below. And you will be able to see the quick. It will be the little reddish line towards the top of the nail. Even though you can see that the quick stops, you should cut even below that, just to make sure there is no bleeding because the quick stops were you can’t see it at the end. If your parakeet’s nails are solid gray, than just clip the very tip of the nail. If you do end up cutting to the quick, take a cloth, napkin, or tissue and immediately apply pressure only to the nail, not the toe. There are also a wide variety of products you may buy at the store, like Quickstop.
Bathing is as important as preening. It helps to clean the feathers and skin, and give your parakeet something natural to do. There are a variety of things to bathe your parakeet with, there are special bath tubs made for parakeets, a sink, you can spray them with a spray bottle gently, or you can give them a shower. Most birds prefer taking baths in their own bath tubs, a lot of budgie also like showers. Some parakeets even enjoy taking a shower with their owners, but there are a few rules to this and general bathing;
• Always make sure you use lukewarm water.
• Buy a special shower perch so it doesn’t drown
• Be extra careful not to get soap on your parakeet
• Never force your parakeet to bathe, you will cause it to become afraid of bathing
• Try all the different things it can bathe in and see which it prefers
• Some owners even put their bird’s cage out in the rain, (After removing food, toys, and water bottles) make sure that it has a dry place for it to retreat to when finished, and make sure it’s not out their for more than 10 minuets, it could catch a cold which can be deadly to parakeets. I do not recommend this method because it has a lot of risks
Winter time is an especially important time for bathing your parakeet because, just like humans, there skin becomes dry. Bathe your bird every other day in winter, and the rest of the year 2-3 times a week.
One day you make look into your parakeet’s cage and see tons of feathers lying on the ground. Don’t be alarmed! This is a normal process of shedding feathers and growing new ones called molting. Molting will happen 2-3 times a year, depending on the bird. No one knows exactly when it will happen.
Why do parakeets lose their feathers? Because after a while, your parakeet’s feathers will get worn, tattered and bent and no amount of preening will fix them. So, the bird loses his feathers to grow brand new ones. By looking at the cage floor it may seem like your parakeet loses all its feathers at once, but it doesn’t. Molting takes a while, most likely a few days. If you notice any bald spots, call your vet. Your parakeet will become stressed during this period, so respect it if it doesn’t want to come out, it is also a lot more likely to bite. Feed your parakeet extra healthy foods also, to help it grow its new feathers. A lot of people make a hobby of collecting shed parakeet feathers; it’s also a great way to remember it when it passes away.
After a feather is lost during molting, a pin feather will emerge in the spot. It is a little waxy sheath that you will mostly see on the bird’s head, because the bird can't preen them off there. These little sheaths are a covering the new feather which is growing inside and have tiny little veins inside it. Pinfeathers are painful and itchy to grow, so your bird may also be irritable if it has a lot. If you have another bird, you may see them preening them off of each other, this is good. If you give your Budgie baths more often during pin feather growth, it may help to sooth the pain and itch of it, just give it warmer water.