Pet birds don't have as many opportunities to naturally wear down their nails like wild birds do. As a result, nails may grow unevenly and become painfully sharp over time. A properly fitting conditioning perch will go a long way toward wearing down your birds nails, but you may still need to assist in rounding off the tips from time to time.
The first thing to know about trimming your birds nails is that parrots have a rather long quick compared to dogs. Parrots need the curve in their nail for climbing and grabbing so the quick grows down into the curve of the nail. If the quick is clipped it is very painful and it bleeds profusely causing both your and your pet a lot of distress. ALWAYS have Styptic Gel on hand when grooming your birds wings, beak and nails.
We recommend that you have your Avian Vet show you how to groom your nails before you embark on the mission yourself. This is especially important if your bird has black nails that don't allow you to see the quick.
There are three common methods for trimming a birds nails and beak.
An Ordinary Nail File
Dremel With Attachment
Start by trimming just a little off at a time. It takes patience and a calm demeanor to trim a birds nails, especially one that has been traumatized with painful trims in the past. If your bird is too frightened or very uncooperative, seek the help of a professional. Most avian vets will trim nails and beaks for a nominal fee.
Parrot Beak Care
Provide your parrot with plenty of wood toys mineral blocks and hard items to wear its beak down. Even so, your bird may need a professional groom from time to time. Many vets use a Dremel style grooming device and they are knowledgable about how each species beak needs to be groomed. For instance, grooming a Cockatoo's beak is different from that of an African Grey Parrot.
Keep in mind that your birds beak is living tissue and it is recommended that you consult an avian vet for assistance. If the trim is uneven or too short, it will be painful and potentially be at risk for infection.