Blue, grey and black birds on a perch

If you are considering owning a bird or a new bird owner, you may have heard of wing clipping. Wing clipping is a way to prevent your pet bird from gaining significant altitude when using their wings. It still allows for a controlled descent to the floor.
Many people compare this procedure to the declawing of a cat, but this is not an accurate comparison. Wing clipping is similar to trimming your nails or getting a haircut. Three to six of your pet bird’s long flight feathers will be trimmed at the tip. The procedure is neither painful nor permanent, which means that if you change your mind, you can choose to not do it again.

Why Wing Clipping?

Blue yellow and green macaw

Bird owners choose to use this procedure for many reasons. The first being their bird’s safety. Restricting a bird’s flight gives owners some control over the safety of their bird. Birds tend to be curious creatures. Curiosity can often get them in trouble if they are not being closely supervised.
Another reason for owners to consider this procedure is to foster a good relationship from the beginning. By trimming their wings before you bring your pet bird home for the first time, you will cause your new bird to be dependent on you. This also will allow you to evaluate your new bird’s behavior with less chance of an accident. This is especially helpful with smaller birds who have been raised by another bird rather than a human.
The final reason that most larger breed bird owners choose to get this procedure done is to prevent any accidents that can be caused by their bird. Larger birds can be destructive and cause trouble when they are left with full flight abilities. They can also realize their power over their owners, causing even more issues.

D.I.Y?

Since this procedure is neither painful nor permanent, for smaller bird breeds, it can certainly be done at home. However, you risk breaking your bird’s trust in you. You should also do some research before going in with the scissors to ensure that you’re trimming the correct feathers.
For larger bird breeds, it’s best to seek out a professional. Larger breeds can be unpredictable and they can be quite strong. A breeder or a pet shop employee may have special techniques and equipment to better be able to handle a bird of a larger size.

Why Not Wing Clipping?

Two orange, red and green conures grooming eachother

Some owners choose to leave their pet birds with their full flight ability because it is a natural bird behavior. This is up to you as a bird owner. You should note that flight is the best way for your pet bird to get their daily exercise if you have ample space to allow them to fly properly.
Other pets may be another reason for you to consider leaving your bird’s flight feathers intact. Even the most docile cats and dogs can be unpredictable. Allowing your bird to have the option to fly away for escape from another pet in an emergency is always a good reason to opt-out of this procedure.

As you can see, there is no clear-cut “right” answer. The decision is up to you as the bird owner. You should consider your living situation, your pet bird’s behavior, and your level of involvement with your bird. Remember, the procedure is not permanent so if you choose to get it done once, you can see how it works for you and your bird and evaluate whether you want to consistently get it done in the future.

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