How to Remove a Beak From Flesh

The size of the bird is not equivalent to the size of damage to the handler. Many small species are very quick or “grab and grind” and are a much bigger challenge to capture and restrain. Macaws are large enough to induce caution and provide a large target for capture, thus are less likely to injure the handler. Cockatoo species and African Grey species are known to relax and catch the handler off-guard.

When bitten, handlers must remember

  1. First, not to panic, and DO NOT PULL BACK. Most bites are defensive strikers and they do not latch on--but there may be multiple strikes and complete chunks of tissue removed. While “it hurts real bad” the rescuer is not going to die. Rescuers should familiarize themselves with the defensive behavior of parrot species they expect to encounter.

  2. That the best way to respond, if the security of the situation allows, is to set the bird’s feet on a surface and let go of the bird. If a towel or cloth is being used as restraint it can very rapidly be repositioned and the capture re-initiated before the bird orients.

  3. Caution: touching the beak at all may cause the bite to be more forceful or initiate another bite.

  4. To wait it out and let the bird decide to let the rescuer loose.

  5. To try pushing the finger or hand further INTO the beak. Positioning at the commissures does not lacerate and allows access to the tip of upper and lower beak for manipulation.

  6. To have a helper “tickle” the commissures or nostrils of the bird and be ready to pull away.

  7. If the beak must be pried open, to use a “cross-finger” technique (the rescuer’s other hand or a helper’s hand(s)) where the thumb pushes on the upper beak and index finger pushes on the bottom. This helps to prevent entrapment of the non-bitten hand.

  8. As a last resort the helper can try to lasso the upper beak with gauze, while the bitten part exerts pressure on the bottom beak.