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Viewing Pet Directory:
Bird Article - Should I Clip my Bird's Wing?

As published in The Pet Directory NSW & ACT Edition
by Resident Avian Vet Dr. Michael Cannon BVSc. MACVSc. Grad Dip Ed

Why Not?
Birds that are allowed to fly freely are generally more physically fit and healthier than those confined permanently in a cage. If the wings are clipped incorrectly there is a greater chance of the bird crash landing and injuring itself. If flight is restricted the bird is less able to escape from danger if it needs to.

When is it a good idea?
• To reduce the chance of escape: eg when there is a risk of doors and windows accidentally being
left opened when the bird is loose.
• To limit access to potentially hazardous household items
• To prevent injury from flying into mirrors, windows and walls
• To make training and taming easier by limiting mobility
• To prevent dominant behaviour by preventing the bird from reaching a higherperch than you
• In an aviary situation where a dominant bird is persistently aggressive towards others clipping the aggressive birds wings allows the other birds to escape

Will clipping stop all flight?
Clipping will not prevent the bird from trying to fly. Nor will it stop the bird from being able to fly altogether. The aim is simply to slow down and reduce the amount of lift the bird has so it can’t fly as high or as fast. Some strong flying species such as budgies and cockatiels may still be quite mobile. These birds, even though clipped, may still escape if taken outside. Always do a test flight at home each day for the first few days after the clip to allow the bird to adjust to its altered mobility.

One wing or two?
Both wings should be clipped evenly to allow more balanced attempts at flight. Clipping only one wing can throw the bird off balance resulting in crash landings and severe injury to the beak, keel (breastbone) or legs.

How should the wings be clipped?
The type of wing clip used needs to be tailored to the individual. It is important to discuss with your vet what your requirements and expectations are. There are certain feathers on the wing that should not be clipped. If you wish to clip your birds wings yourself please ask an experienced vet to show you how first.

Is the procedure permanent?
No.New feathers will replace the cut ones at the next moult. When the bird is moulting it should be treated as fully flighted.

Usually a full wing clip will be required approximately 8-12 weeks after moulting starts. If you are unsure of timing the bird can be brought in every 2 weeks during the moult to have the feathers that have regrown trimmed.

For more information about caring your birds please contact
Cannon and Ball Veterinary Clinic - (02) 4229 8888
481 Crown Street, West Wollongong 2500 - Australia
Aussie Bird Friendly Forum




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