Are they Self-Cleaning?

It would be nice to have a pet that could pick up after itself, but if you've had children you know that even that is nearly impossible.  With parrots, often described as the perpetual two-year old, you have to not only pick up after them but you have to clean and trim regularly.  Some people are against trimming their wings, some only trim one.  This is my take on it: Trimming Rocky's wings is for his own safety.  If he should get startled and fly out the door there is little chance that he can survive on his own after being in captivity for a long time and getting regular meals and scritches.  Also, trimming only one wing, in my humble opinion, is dangerous because he could be very off balance if he tried to fly somewhere.  So opinions vary, I just do what I feel is best for Rocky's safety and after over a decade he's still here, safe and sound.  Okay, we're talking about Rocky, so it's safe and without-a-sound.

Cage Cleaning

Cleaning Rocky's cage is a chore.  Usually I can just spray some water and it cleans off pretty easily, sometimes you have to scrub a little.  The nice thing, if there is one, about bird poop is that there is nothing about it that attracts bugs or ants.  Even still, that doesn't mean that it can go without being cleaned up.  There can be bacteria or germs, so the cage shouldn't go too long without a good cleaning.  There are certain cleaners that can be used, and I won't endorse any of them here...I suggest you check with your local veterinarian before you start cleaning.  The product I use works very well, but I'm not sure if it's recommended.  Some say yes, some say no, some say I don't know.  That translates to: the cup is half-full, the cup is half-empty, and the cup is bigger than it needs to be.  Just use your better judgment and you'll be fine.

Food Dishes

I currently use the stainless steel dishes that came with the cage when I bought it, but previously I used glass bowls because they were easier to keep clean and they didn't stain.  If you've ever used plastic dishes you have probably had a difficult time cleaning them.  The crocks are okay too, they're a little heavier and clean up well, but it's difficult finding one that will fit in the holder on the cage.  

High Maintenance

Trimming the wing feathers, nails and preening new feathers is one of my responsibilities.  Usually Rocky will preen the feathers he can reach, and he chews on his nails and grinds his beak to maintain those, but still I need to trim the nails occasionally to get the sharp point off.  Trimming the wing feathers isn't required, but is done for safety.  I'll describe how I do these below, please remember this is how I do these for my own bird, and this is not a recommendation to you.  Consult your local vet or a breeder for assistance if you have never done this.  Rocky is very special and unique, and we have been together for over 13 years so even though I don't wrap Rocky in a towel I would never try this with another bird.


There are two sets of feathers: the primary - which provides lift, and the secondary - which help break the fall.  I usually trim about the first five long feathers, about half way down.  The one thing you will notice about many people who do this is that they will wrap the parrot in a towel, both for the birds safety and their own.  Rocky doesn't care for confinement and he has trusted me to do this without wrapping him up.  I also have to be very careful not to trim a blood feather, another reason you should not try this alone if you've never done this.  Smaller birds can take to the air easier, so you may have to test your bird to see if you've trimmed enough.  Remember: it's easier to fix it if you've trimmed too little, and impossible to fix if you've trimmed too much, and you risk injury to your parrot.

Trimming his wings is for his own safety, as I mentioned.  Some agree, some disagree, to each their own.  The actual trimming of the feathers doesn't hurt the parrot in any way.


Rocky chews on his nails often to keep them sharp, then I go in and take the point off.  Why?  Because those nails hurt!  That's why!  Well, also, if the nail is too long it can make it difficult for him to grip the perch he's on.  Again, most people perform this task by wrapping their parrot in a towel and using a dog-nail clipper or a rotary tool, like the one I use, or a nail file.  I prefer the rotary tool because it's quicker and that suits Rocky just fine.  As with the feather trimming, he doesn't like it much but tolerates it and trusts me.  I keep the tool at a lower speed and I'm very careful not to cut too much off...if you cut too far you could injure the bird and that would be like a hangnail to him...very painful.

Trimming the nails keeps the point down so he won't cut my skin when I hold him, and this doesn't hurt him in any way either when done properly.


If Rocky had a girlfriend he would have someone to preen his newly forming feathers.  As it is, I get to do that task.  He will preen much of his own, as long as he can reach it, but for the ones that he can't reach I have to grab the shaft of the feather and twist out the feather until the feather is released.  I am very careful to not do this too closely to the blood line.  A feather will start as a blood shaft and as the feather fills the shaft the blood recedes and the feather grows.  With Cockatoos there is a lot of "powder" in the shaft and as I twist that out it's like baby power, cockatoo dust, as it's often called.

This is usually a comfort thing with cockatoos and they seem to enjoy it.  Without doing this his feathers may not grow in properly and they will fall out prematurely.  This doesn't cause any discomfort to the bird, when done correctly.


Most birds like to take a bath or shower.  Not Rocky.  Some people with smaller birds just turn on the faucet in the kitchen sink, but Rocky needs a bigger venue.  So I put him in the shower stall and turn the water on.  Be sure to keep the water luke warm!!  If it's cold in your home I don't suggest you give him a shower and let him drip dry.  make sure it's warm in the home or he could catch cold.

Showering does two things: it helps keep the dust mites off of him and also keeps the dust itself down.  Some people shower their birds daily, some weekly and others "whenever".

Getting a "hair" cut

Trimming the nails
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I need scritches!
As you can see in these photos, Rocky's cage, food dishes and surroundings aren't the only things needing attention...Rocky requires play time as well as interaction.  Give your bird toys to chew on and regular attention and he will reward you with letting you do silly things like this to him! --> rasta.JPG (79535 bytes)

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