Nature Notebook – Owl Pedicure Day
Today was pedicure day for our screech owls…not one of their favorite days. Anyone who has had toenails cut by someone else can attest to the unpleasant feeling the owls feel.
Owl talons grow constantly, just like toenails. When wild birds grab onto a variety of perches, their talons are worn down and kept at a healthy length. Captive birds have a limited array of perches. Their talons can easily become overgrown and the resulting “bumblefoot” impairs the bird’s perching ability. So, a captive bird’s handler must take over the job of providing the manicure.
Beaks can also grow too long, making it difficult for the bird to tear apart its food. Wild birds prevent this by feaking. They rub their beaks on rough surfaces to clean them after eating. This wears down the sides and sharpens them. Captive owls need their handlers to cope (to trim and reshape) their beaks.
We love our owls but they don’t love us!