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07:11 pm: one to hold the bird, one to operate the dremel
Today I got to watch someone cope (that is, trim) the beak and talons of a barn owl. This bird has a persistent wing droop that has kept it at the raptor center for a while. It doesn't cooperate with being restrained, but it doesn't fight much either. (There's a tiny screech owl that's been there for a couple weeks, and both times I've seen it handled, I've seen it injure its handler. There's a reason up-to-date tetanus shots are the first requirement of a volunteer.)

The bird's beak and talons grow like fingernails, and if the bird doesn't wear them down, or wears them down unevenly, they need to be trimmed. To restrain a bird, you cover it with a drape, like a cut-open pillowcase. If they can't see, they can't fly, and also they are less likely (though not unlikely) to try to attack you. So one person holds the bird, with the bird's back to his chest and his hands around the bird's legs, and the other uses a Dremel to grind the beak and the talons closer to their ideal shape. This is not to blunt them, mind you; we don't want to take away the bird's weapons, we want to make them less likely to crack.

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[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2015 03:52 am (UTC)
Zowie, that sounds stressful. It's somewhat interesting to me because the two times I've dealt with completely wild, injured owls, they both were totally easy to handle after the first frenzied problems: they seemed to come to the conclusion that either I wasn't planning on hurting them or there wasn't much they could do about it. Either I was very lucky or it was a matter of me not doing anything more than just getting a blanket over it so it kept still, without any further insults.
I wonder if the bird has a torn ligament.
But I'm glad to hear you're still going, despite the semi-discouragement previously expressed.
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
I used to have a little parakeet and I had to cut her nails for the same reason; it was very nerve-wracking because if you cut too low, the vein would get nicked and she'd bleed. Then I'd feel like a cruel animal abuser. Would have been better with two people, but not a dremel tool.
[User Picture]
Date:January 7th, 2015 06:30 am (UTC)
Not unless the dremel had a millisecond-pulse setting!

My little dog's nails are all black. I have never cut to the quick, but only because I am very very tentative, which means his nails are way too long. I am so embarrassed every time a dog person looks at him.
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2015 02:34 pm (UTC)

Ah I have fond memories of being taught to do this–on a very nervy peregrine. I was just about to take the first cut (we were using clippers) when the 'phone rang and the falconer went off to answer it. At least I'd had previous experience clipping the cats' claws. Had we got to the imping stage,...

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