There are several reasons to clip a birds wing. These range from controlling aggression in a male bird that comes into breeding condition before the female, it helps to slow him down if he starts to chase her, to clipping a pet parrots wings which is the most common reason. I would always recommend clipping a pet parrots wings especially when you first buy a new parrot. The main reasons are when your new parrot comes to your home the surroundings are not familiar and they can easily become shocked if someone new enters the room or if you start hovering and it is possible for them to fly into a window and break their necks. I receive many phone calls each year from people who have had their parrot fly out of a window that has been left open by accident and ask what to do. Only about 50% of these escaped parrots are found, many must starve to death.
Another more subtle reason for clipping their wings is to always be in control of your pet parrot and not to let him become the boss which is when you really start to have problems. If your new pet is not clipped he can fly around your house at will and if you want to put him in his cage and he knows what you intend to do, which they soon learn, then he flies just a few feet away each time you try to pick him up. This is a very bad habit to get into as he will see himself as in control and the bond between you will start to break down. One final reason is if the parrot is allowed to fly around your house and like to chew which all parrots do, then after a few months you may have holes in most of your furniture!
To clip a birds wing you simply clip most of the longest feathers on one wing only, not both, as the whole idea of clipping is to put him slightly off balance so he cannot fly so well. If you clip both wings you will find it maybe a bit more difficult to fly but they are not off balance and can fly very well. I advise you leave the outer four feathers as these will look much better if left, as when the parrot closes his wings they will cover the area that has been clipped and cross with the longest feathers on the other wing so there will be no sign of any clipping and the appearance is normal. Also the first four longest feathers next to the body of the parrot produce no real lift so these can be left as well. It is best to use a pair of nail clippers to cut off the feathers one at a time and cut them just under the second layer of feathers so the cut can not be seen. If you look at the diagram above of a parrots wing viewed from above you will see how each layer of feathers covers the next layer. If you get an assistant to hold the parrot and pull one wing out it will be much easier to see how to clip the wing. You clip one feather at a time from under the wing and clip each of the longest feathers just shorter than where the second layer of feather covers them - and remember to leave four feathers at each end.
WARNING: You must never cut a blood feather. This is a new feather which has a sheath around it which means the feather is still growing and has a blood supply. If any part of the feather has sheath or wrapping around it, so not all the feather is clearly visible then do not cut this. If in any doubt do not cut this feather. If you get a chance to see a baby parrot a few weeks before they are due to wean then have a good look and you will see many of the blood feathers so you know what to look out for.
Many pet owners do have their parrots fully winged and allow them to fly around the house which is fine as long as they understand the possible things that can go wrong. If you want to do this then its best to it after you have had the parrot for six months so the parrot knows everything about its new environment and will not easily be shocked.
If you are worried about clipping please feel free to ring me for more advise or visit someone who regularly clips parrots wings, once you have done this you will see it is a very simple thing to do with a tame parrot.
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