Tips About Wing Clipping

There are differing opinions about clipping your bird’s wings. Some people see it in the same light as docking a puppy’s tail but there’s nothing inhumane about it if done properly by someone who knows what they’re doing and takes proper care. It can also be good for the bird as he can be let out of his cage for a romp without the worry of having him take off into the wild where he would most likely perish.

One thing to bear in mind right from the start is that clipping some wing feathers will not stop a bird from flying. Rather, it will merely limit its ability to fly. Another important thing to remember is that the feathers grow back fairly quickly and you need to keep trimming them in much the same way as we humans have regular haircuts. Our neighbour had a Cockatiel with one clipped wing and she used to let him out of the cage every day and even walked around the yard with him on her shoulder. However, she went away for a few weeks and left him with her father, who didn’t realise that the feathers had re-grown sufficiently to enable him to fly reasonably well. The result was bye-bye birdie.

Some people clip both wings but quite often one wing is sufficient. Only the primary (or flight) feathers need to be cut but, for a better appearance, you can leave the first two and just clip the rest. That way it won’t look like he has a clipped wing while sitting on his perch but it will still restrict his flying ability.

It’s probably a good idea to have someone help you by holding the bird, preferably wrapped in a towel, while you wield the scissors. That way there’s less chance of harming him if he wriggles. Always cut away from the bird’s body, not towards it. Make sure you use good sharp scissors that are not too big for the job.

One thing you need to be particularly careful about is never to clip a pin (or blood) feather. This is a developing feather and looks like a feather shaft but it has a blood supply flowing through it and cutting it can cause the bird to bleed to death. If you do accidentally cut a pin feather, you can usually stop the bleeding with baking powder or by plucking out the feather from its base but I would suggest hurrying the bird to the vet rather than risking it.

If you’re cutting a wing for the first time, I would recommend taking your bird to the vet or other bird expert and have him show how it’s done. You know the old saying: “Showing’s better than telling.”