In the wild, a parrot's beak and nails are maintained naturally in the course of chewing, nut cracking, nest building, climbing, tearing apart fruits and vegetables, landing and walking on rough branches, and swiping beaks frequently on hard, rough surfaces. All this “parrot work” assists in manicuring their beaks and nails. Domestic parrots don't have as varied an environment or activity level. Therefore, some level of human intervention is required to achieve what is accomplished naturally by their wild counterparts.
Besides lack of activity, improper nutrition and health problems can also result in beak and nail problems as exhibited by overgrowth, brittleness or softness. It is suggested that you routinely monitor the status of your bird's beaks for signs of overgrowth, cracking, flaking, lesions or color changes. A healthy beak is well aligned as well as uniform in shape, color and texture.
The best way to assist your parrot in grooming its own nails and beak is to have a variety of destructible chewing toys and accessories such as grooming perches available and appropriately placed within their cage at all times. Multiple perches and climbing toys stationed throughout the cage will stimulate your bird to be more active and move within his environment which will assist in maintaining his nails and beak, as well as improve his overall mental and physical fitness.
Proper placement of grooming perches is essential to ensure they are effectively used and not overused. Due to their abrasive nature, grooming perches can irritate a bird's foot if they spend excessive time on it. Therefore, it is recommended that they not be placed in the area of the cage where your bird commonly sleeps, typically the highest perching spot. Rather, place the grooming perch near the food dishes where he is assured to spend some time and where he is also likely to use it to scrape his beak.
Although the use of the above mentioned accessories will not completely eliminate the need for manicuring your bird's beak and nails, it will greatly reduce the frequency of having to subject your bird to grooming. Further guidelines and specific recommendations pertaining to the health, maintenance and care your bird's beak and nails are contained in our related articles: