Keeping your finch's beak & nails trimmed is part of good animal husbandry & hygiene practices and is something you should work into a regular routine. Daily observation of your birds will help you to catch these potential health risks early and remedy the situation before tragedy strikes.
Any time the tip of the beak extends beyond the tip of the lower mandible, the beak is too long. Of course a tiny bit won't affect the feeding habits of the bird, and in most cases won't cause any problems with the effectiveness of the beak to hull seeds. But if left too long, an overly long beak can get out of control in a hurry.
In most cases, if the birds are given sand perches or cuttlebone, they will wipe their beaks enough to keep the beak trimmed down. But if not, it is up to you to make sure the beak stays trim.
An overly long beak can cause feeding issues, leaving the bird malnourished. In serious cases, a beak left too long before being trimmed can actually "reshape" itself and become malformed. In some instances, the cleft in the upper beak used to align seeds to hull them may also become malformed. This problem cannot be repaired, so it is imperative you prevent it by regularly clipping the beak to the proper length and filing it to the proper shape.
This beak is overly long which has caused it to cross.
Anytime a nail is so long that it curls, it is too long (unless the species is supposed to have curled nails like some types of Frilled Canaries).
Long nails can get caught on nests, nesting material and in the cage bars. They can puncture eggs, or injure chicks. If they get broken off too short, they can cause serious bleeding which can kill the bird.
And while getting a nail caught on something or having it puncture an egg doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, allowing nails to stay long can actually be a health hazard. If the nail gets caught in something the bird can't get out of, it may end up hanging itself, or battering itself until death occurs. It is very important to keep nails trimmed and neat to avoid these potential life threatening problems.
In the video below, we explain how we trim both beak & nails. See our other YouTube Channel Videos in the "Gouldian & Finch Husbandry" playlist for more information.
TRIMMING YOUR FINCH'S BEAK & NAILS
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
What's Considered Too Long???
Far too long. These nails are dangerous to the bird's health.
When trimming the nail, you want to cut just beyond the tip of the quick. You also want to cut on an approximate 45 degree angle.
This will allow the bird to perch easily, and allows the nail to make complete contact with the perch.
We call this a "show trim", but the contact actually serves a purpose in keeping the nail trimmed up longer.