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Clipping Bird Wings: A Comprehensive Guide

clipping bird wings

Do you need help clipping bird wings at home? If you want to DIY it and try feather clipping to save a couple of dollars, this guide is for you!

It may seem like a daunting task but with this guide along with your vet’s advice, you can succeed in trimming flight feathers by yourself.

In particular, you’ll discover:

  • The steps on clipping wings on birds and the things you should look out for
  • How often to clip your bird’s wings
  • Pros and cons of this practice

So, if it’s your first time clipping a bird’s wings, follow our detailed guide below.

Clipping Bird Wings infographics

Wing Trimming — An Introduction to Clipping Bird Wings

Feather clipping or wing trimming is the process of trimming a pet bird’s primary flight feathers. Its purpose is not to get rid of a bird’s flying ability completely but to ensure it can’t achieve or sustain upward flight.

It also helps prevent escape, and excessive roaming and keeps them safe from common household dangers they face daily.

However, birds can still glide even after wing clipping and these flight feathers will regrow and you may need to reclip your bird again.

How Often Should You Clip Your Bird’s Wings

So, how long should you wait to clip a bird’s wings? Bird wings need to be clipped every 1 to 3 months after they start molting as their new feathers grow back.

But every bird is different so you may need to adjust the frequency based on how long your bird’s feathers grow.

Always check your pet’s wings to prevent accidental injuries from a flight. A couple of feathers growing in the right place may enable a bird to soar high. So, it’d be best to always check or perform a test flight.

Can I Clip My Bird’s Wings?

Yes! You can clip your bird’s wings at home. But if it’s your first time clipping feathers and for your bird as well, we recommend letting the vet do the job first.

Let them show you how to clip bird wings properly. And if you feel confident trimming the feathers when it’s fully regrown, you can do so. But if not, don’t hesitate to call your avian vet to avoid injuries.

wing clipping guide

How to Clip Bird Wings?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on clipping budgie wings and other parrot birds.

Preparation Before the Clipping Process

1. Choose a quiet, well-lit, and fully-enclosed room and make sure all windows and doors are closed during the process.

Bringing your bird somewhere unfamiliar to him will reduce the chances of him jumping and fighting against you while trimming. The ideal place for this process is a spare bedroom or bathroom.

2. Get your supplies ready before clipping including the sharp pair of scissors, a thick towel, and someone who can help you out during the clipping process.

It’d be best if you have a first aid kit on standby in the event of unforeseen emergencies.

3. It’s no surprise if your bird resists getting clipped because it’s terrifying for them. So, you need to wrap your bird with a thick towel to restrain his movement temporarily but don’t put pressure on the chest. Otherwise, the bird will have trouble breathing.

The common cause of feather clipping accidents is not having proper restraint on birds.

So, it’s best to have an assistant that can help you hold the bird’s body and head to prevent biting.

4. This is a vital part of the clipping process. If you’re wondering where to get birds’ wings clipped, you need to get to know more about the primary flight feathers first. It refers to the larger feathers stemming from the smaller feathers.

You’ll be trimming six primary flight feathers but we’ll get into that later.

Clipping Bird Wings The Right Way

Now that everything’s set, let’s get to the clipping process right away.

1. Spread out the wings and start cutting three to five primary flight feathers. Work from the wing tip to clip the feathers about a quarter inch below the shorter ones.

2. As you cut and work inward, remember to cut one feather at a time to avoid harming your bird. To ensure, you won’t cut the smaller ones and feather shafts that contain the blood feathers, trim a quarter inch below them. Just take your time and focus while cutting.

3. After clipping bird wings on one side, proceed to the other to keep the balance.

Things You Need to Avoid When Clipping Parrot Wings:

Pay attention to the bird’s blood feathers when clipping.

Blood feathers are the newly developing feathers in baby birds and those that grow to replace the feathers lost during the molting process in adult birds.

Since they’re actively growing, blood feathers have lots of blood supply within their shaft and will bleed when cut.

If you don’t have any idea how to identify the blood feathers, just remember that the base where feathers are growing and being nourished by blood is dark blue.

But on the smaller feathers around the head, the base is either red or pink.

If you accidentally cut a blood feather, you have to remove it with pliers. The bleeding won’t stop and can lead to death. So, it’s best to get it done by professionals to avoid harming your bird.

Recovery Process After Wing Clipping for Birds

After clipping your bird’s wings, you need to put your bird back in its cage and let it rest for hours. Feather clipping can be stressful for birds.

So, they need time to rest and recuperate before interacting with you or any family member.

Don’t forget to feed him nutritionally-balanced bird feed and supplemental fruits and veggies for faster recovery.

Look out for any signs of sickness and make sure you provide the needed time and attention to your bird.

feather clipping

Clipping Bird Wings — The Pros and Cons

Trimming your bird’s feathers has its pros and cons. Many avian enthusiasts deem it necessary for pet birds but others believe it’s cruel to trim their wings.

So, before making a decision, consider the benefits and downsides of clipping parakeet wings and other birds. It will help you ensure you make the right decision for your beloved feathery companion.

Benefits of Clipping Bird Wings

Here are the advantages of clipping bird wings:

1. Birds can’t fly away

The main reason why birds’ wings are clipped, specifically their flight feathers is to ensure they won’t fly away.

These primary feathers are important for them to horizontally and vertically and gain high altitude. So, by removing it, you can prevent them from escaping.

2. They can avoid accidents

Birds face many perils even inside your home. They might hit the windows, doorway, sinks, and ceiling fans while flying and having the time of their lives.

But you can prevent injuries from accidents if you’d clip your bird’s wings. They can still glide but you can reduce the risk significantly and keep them safe.

3. Your bird will rely on you

Another reason why avian owners clip their bird’s wings is it can force your bird to depend on you. And you can take advantage of that to build a stronger bond with your pet.

Downsides of Clipping Bird Wings

On the other side of the spectrum, other avian owners are against bird feather clipping due to the following reasons:

1. Less exercise and mental stimulation

Clipping bird wings may cause physical and psychological damage because it can limit the bird’s exercise and reduce mental stimulation.
As a result, the bird can become overweight which can make them susceptible to heart problems.

2. Not ideal for show birds

Show birds with full feathers have higher chances of winning. So other owners prefer to keep their bird’s flight feathers for aesthetic purposes.

3. It takes away their freedom

Flying is a bird’s primary mode of travel and movement. If you’d clip your bird’s wings, you’re limiting them from exploring and fulfilling their desire to soar high.

4. They can’t escape prey

If you have cats and dogs at home, you need to consider it first before clipping your bird’s wings. They may view your bird as prey and attack it.

So, if your pet bird can’t fly which is its natural defense mechanism, your bird can’t escape.

clipping budgie wings

Is Clipping Bird’s Wings Cruel?

People and avian enthusiasts have contrasting opinions regarding clipping bird wings. Is it cruel to clip a bird’s wings?

Other owners want to keep their bird’s flying privilege because that’s how they’re designed after all. They enjoy watching them fly and don’t want their birds to get hurt during the trimming period.

However, letting your bird fly indoors can be dangerous. As said earlier, they’re prone to bumping into ceiling fans, mirrors, and windows and getting injured.

So, clipping bird wings can actually save their lives.

If done the right way, clipping wings don’t actually hurt more than it hurts to trim our fingernails.

But if you’re not comfortable doing it, it’s best to leave the job to the professionals.

clipping parrot wings

Cost of Clipping Bird Wings

Now let’s talk about the cost of feather clipping should you decide to let the vet do the job.

How much does it cost to get birds’ wings clipped?

Wing clipping costs around $15 for small to medium-sized birds such as cockatiel, budgies, conures, and Quakers. As for large and extra large birds like galahs, Eclectus parrots, Hahn’s macaw, cockatoos, caiques, and other macaws, you may have to spend $20.

But it may depend on your region and where you’re going to get their wings clipped.

If you’re going to bring your bird to a vet, you can expect to pay $50 or more because they may conduct check-ups on your pet to ensure it’s in good shape. You may also find vets that offer lower fees ranging from $20 to 30 to as much as $100.

how to trim bird wings

Common Questions About Clipping Bird Wings

Here are the answers to other frequently asked questions about feather clipping that may help you gain more insight into the process.

Can a bird with clipped wings ever fly again?

Birds need to regrow all their natural flight feathers for them to be able to learn or relearn how to fly. But even birds with clipped wings can still fly, especially the large species and those who weren’t clipped properly.

What happens if you clip a bird’s wings?

Birds can still fly even after their wings are clipped but they won’t gain much altitude. However, if they’re clipped too much, they might fall and break their fragile bones.

Why do pet stores clip birds’ wings?

Pet stores clip bird wings to make sure they won’t fly away. By trimming their primary feathers which are the flight feathers, birds can’t fly away and gain high altitude. it prevents them from escaping the store and protects them from accidents.

How long do clipped wings last?

Clipped bird wings regrow after 1 to 3 months after the beginning of their molt cycle, and as their new feathers grow again. But it may vary depending on your bird so you need to look out and check their flight feathers regularly.

Will wing feathers grow back?

Yes, parrots can regrow their wings and so are other birds if clipping flight feathers was done right. Some birds may take more time to fully regrow but eventually, it will.

clipping feathers

Final Thoughts on Clipping Bird Wings—Should I Do It?

Clipping bird wings is a controversial issue and a subject for debate. But it’ll all depend on you.

If you’re raising your avian companion as a pet and you want to prevent your bird from flying away and protect him from accidents, do it! It won’t hurt that much. On top of that, it can also help you build a stronger bond because your bird will depend on you more.

However, if you want to grant your bird full freedom and exhibit your bird in shows, clipping bird wings is not advisable.

Note that this process can also limit your bird’s ability to exercise and can reduce mental stimulation brought by flying. And birds with clipped feathers will struggle to escape from household predators like cats and dogs.

Although it wouldn’t be a problem if you don’t have any other pets at home, give it a little thought before clipping. If the pros outweigh the cons for you and you think it’s best for your bird, then it’s better to get that wings clipped.

READ NEXT: How to Discipline a Bird—A Comprehensive Guide for Bird Owners

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