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When capturing your bird for examination, grooming or medication, it is important to keep the experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible. To enable a smooth process, one must mentally go over exactly what needs to be done and prepare. If possible, capture your bird outside the cage, as this reduces stress. An extra pair of hands is always helpful but for most birds, not necessary.

If you are capturing a bird to medicate it, this is also a good time to give it a thorough examination, to trim a long nail or two, to feel its overall weight by tracing the prominence of the keel bone, or by weighing the bird. Capturing a bird is always stressful for the bird, to some degree, so try to do as much in one capture as you can reasonably accomplish.

Before capturing the bird, lay out all the materials you will need: medication, already drawn up in the syringe; nail clippers; a scale, if you wish to weigh the bird; the proper size towel for holding the bird.

Small Bird

View slide show, Capturing & Examining Your Bird

Select the appropriate size towel for the bird. Capture and examine a cockatiel or budgie in a washcloth sized towel, or piece of flannel. For larger birds, use larger towels, and for the birds with big beak power, use a thicker towel. The proper sized towel will allow you to comfortably wrap the bird to still and control the wings; there shouldn't be a lot of excess material hanging down below the bird, and the material should allow for just one wrap around the body. Anything more will just get in the way, and you'll lose the bird in the excess cloth. In this example, Linda capures her cockatiel, Roxanne, for a quick examination.

Here, Linda captures Roxanne with a washcloth, which she quickly determines is too small for her cockatiel. If you find your towel is not the right size, now is the time to locate a better one.

If you can, capture your bird off of your arm or finger, rather than capturing it in the cage.  This can be accomplished by steadily bringing the towel up behind the bird, or by having another person gently capture the bird while it's sitting on your arm or finger. 

Bring the towel up around the bird. Using your thumb and first finger, encircle the bird's head from behind, keeping the towel between the skin of your fingers and the birds head. Feel for the place where the birds mandibles, upper and lower, meet, and gently apply pressure at this point to control head movement. If you press here, you will always be pressing below the birds eyes, and so, will not be injuring