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Dickinson Animal Hospital

What You Need to Know About Wing Clipping in Birds

greeen bird in open cage door

Not only do you need to know about avian nutrition, environmental enrichment, and socialization, but there is a lot to know on the veterinary care front.

At Dickinson Animal Hospital & Pet Wellness Center, we are happy to help with all your avian and exotic care needs. From wellness visits to beak care to helping you with things like wing clipping in birds, we are here for you and your feathered friend.

Why Wing Clipping in Birds

Wing clipping in birds is the practice of strategically cutting wing feathers to limit a bird’s ability to fly. The goal is typically not to prevent the animal from flying entirely, but rather to limit upward or sustained flight.

Wing clipping may be done with the intent to:

  • Prevent escape

  • Limit exposure to dangerous obstacles like windows, mirrors, and ceiling fans

  • Prevent access to certain areas of the home

  • Encourage dependance on humans and help with training

A bird with clipped wings is still able to gracefully reach the ground without falling but quickly realizes full flight is not possible. They may be more willing to utilize a human’s hand to move from place to place.

Wing clipping may seem a bit unnatural, however in most situations it is performed with the bird’s safety in mind. A clipped bird can still exercise by flapping the wings and often adapt very well

Properly Clipping Wings

There are many different and appropriate ways to trim a bird’s wings, and with some care it is possible to do it yourself at home. Both wings should be trimmed so as not to create a circular flight pattern for your pet.

Gentle restraint during trimming is helpful and it is also important to avoid new pin or blood feathers that bleed profusely when cut. Most birds need to have their primary feathers trimmed every few months after the start of a new molt cycle as the new feathers grow in. Not keeping up on trims can result in unintended flight.

Knowing how much and where to trim can be a little intimidating, and our expert staff is here to help. Many pet owners choose to have us trim their bird’s wings during routine visits.

If you do choose to clip your bird’s wings, it is important to help your pet thrive in the absence of regular flight. Taking flying away makes it very important to provide exercise and prevent obesity with an appropriate diet. Flightless birds may also benefit from even more environmental enrichment and stimulation than their flighted counterparts.

Be sure to ask Dr. Scott and her team about wing clipping in birds and whether it is right for your pet. For instance, birds in homes with dogs, cats, and other potential predators may greatly benefit from being able to fly. The decision about whether to trim feathers or not can be an important part in your bird’s health care.