Trimming your bird's nails should be a fairly simple procedure provided you know what you're doing and have a good bird holder or other safe restraint method. The equipment you need includes a Cutting Device: on smaller birds this can be a pair of human nail trimmers. On larger parrots, you will need to use either scissor-style pet nail trimmers, or "guillotine-style" ("Rescoe") nail trimmers. Be sure your blades on any cutting implements are sharp and not rusted. You will also need styptic powder to stop the bleeding. This can be obtained at any pet store ("Kwik-Stop") or you can use a human styptic pencil. Be warned that styptic powder on an open wound or cut is painful, so be careful! If you accidentally cut a nail and it bleeds, and you do not have styptic powder, flour will do in an emergency. Remember: if you feel nervous about doing this procedure yourself, don't do it! Go to an avian vet or a professional bird groomer!
Long, overgrown toenails can be very dangerous to your bird. They are not only painful when you hold your bird, but they are more likely to get caught in toys, cages, carpet, etc. The result could be a broken toe! Also, long toenails could impede your bird's walking or perching, causing his toes to curl in awkward positions.
Inside every toenail is a blood supply, or "quick". If cut, this will begin to bleed and can be very painful. It is not, however, deadly, so if you do cut into the blood supply, do not panic. Simply apply styptic powder or flour to the source of the blood and apply pressure for a few seconds. The bleeding should stop (if not, add more powder). Different birds have different quick lengths and different ideal nail lengths.
It may be hard to estimate how short to cut your bird's nails initially. Unless the bird has white nails, it is also very hard to visualize how long the blood supply is. Ideally, we trim the nail just past the blood supply. On some birds, this may be only the very tip of the nail. In the beginning, clip conservatively. If you hit blood on one nail, cut the others a little longer. In time, you will get to know your bird's ideal length. Keeping up-to-date on nail trims may help keep the quicks from getting too long. For your bird's first nail trim it is a good idea to watch a professional groomer do the nails (have them show you what you can do at home), so you can see how far back you can go.
Well trimmed nails are an important part of a bird's health. Cutting nails is fairly simple, once you get the hang of it. More advanced groomers often do this procedure with a tool called a Dremel. It is similar to a drill, but with a straight body and a small, rough stone as a bit. Using this device one can not only trim back the nail quickly and effectively, but can round off the edges, too. (Please do NOT use a Dremel to do your bird's nails if you own one of these tools. It can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing!)
WARNING! When trimming your bird's nails, be watchful of the position of the other toes! They can easily get stuck in your nail trimming device and get cut!