How to Handle a Bird

Catching and Handling

Remove all obstacles from the cage (perches, drinking bowls, feeding bowls, etc. When catching a bird inside a cage the main point to remember is that they are all very frail, especially the smaller ones. It is important that your hand closes right around the body of the bird, including the wings. Any attempt to take hold by one wing or one leg will injure the bird seriously.

Move your hand slowly and deliberately towards the bird until it is very close, then seize the bird quickly, and arrange it so that the palm of your hand is over the back of the bird, with your first two fingers either side of the head and neck, and the thumb and last two fingers forming a loose cage around the body, holding all extremities (wings and legs) firmly together. This method is satisfactory for all small birds. Your index and second fingers can be used to guide the head and beak and prevent the bird from biting. The second finger can be slipped under the bird’s beak to keep the head elevated, with the index finger at the back of the bird’s skull. This way the bird will be prevented from pecking.

Small birds, such as budgerigars, canaries and finches, are particularly susceptible to shock and any rough handling or squeezing may cause death within seconds.

Large parrots and other birds should be approached as described above, but the neck only is grasped with one hand while your other hand seizes the body of the bird or both legs high up to prevent struggling. The bird should be quickly wrapped in a small cloth or towel to prevent wings or legs being injured.

With pigeons and similar birds, the tail, wing tips and feet and feet may be grasped together to allow most of the body to be examined.