Parrot Care

Parrot Wing Clipping

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One of the most controversial topics in parrot health is wing clipping. Fundamentally, it is an owner’s choice based on the available information on the practice, the main points of which we will discuss in this article.

Wing clipping simply means trimming a bird’s main flight feathers, the so called primaries, so that it is no longer able to fly as ably. This practice is no more painful than a haircut when carried out efficiently.

Wing Clipping

So why would you want to interfere with your parrot’s stunning plumage? The most obvious reason is to stop it flying away in escape. Given that escaped parrots rarely fare well taking the precaution of clipping your pet’s wings can be sensible. Even if escape is not a risk, parrots can be easily startled at times, and clipped wings prevent them flying into windows. It also allows you to handle your parrot more easily and stop it flying away from you when it is time to put them back in their cages.

Another reason for clipping wings is to stop aggressive behavior from the male during breeding. The males can get over excited during the mating season and charge down the females. The Moluccan Cockatoo below has its outermost flight feathers clipped.

Clipping Wings

If you are not experienced it is best to have your vet undertake the clipping by cutting the long primary feathers on one side of your bird. This need not look unattractive if you leave in place outer feathers that cover the clipped area. The basic process is to cut up to the first ten feathers at the end of one wing, with less feathers needing to be cut for heavier birds. The primaries are covered by other body feathers, and extend beyond these, thus by clipping up to the point where the covering feathers reach you will not have an unsightly bird.

Some warnings in relation to wing clipping:

  • Feathers grow back so don’t forget to keep an eye on that or your bird could easily escape. Some species such as Senegal Parrots can be powerful fliers even with clipped wings so be careful if taking your bird outside
  • Parrots have very delicate bones so they must not be crushed when held during the clipping process
  • Blood feathers are new growing feathers that have a blood supply, and must not be cut. If they are accidentally cut then they should be immediately plucked in a swift painless motion

An African Grey with its wings clipped:

African Grey with clipped wings

A Meyer’s Parrot with clipped wings:

A Meyers parrot with clipped wings

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