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Should You Clip Your Pet Bird's Wings?

Learn if you should clip your pet bird's wings from veterinarian Laurie Hess in this Howcast video.


Dr. Laurie: So we get asked all the time, should you clip your birds wings? People seem to think that there's something terrible about clipping birds wings. Actually, it's really, really important. I clip my own birds wings. The reason it's important is that birds get into everything. They fly. They're unlike other pets that we have in our homes. As such, it's wonderful for them to fly, but they get into trouble.

They fly around into mirrors, out windows and doors. They'll fly on top of the door. We won't know they're there. We might close the door and then slam the door on their toes. They will fly into hot pots of water. They'll get stuck in places. So wing trimming is important and I think the thing to remember is that it's not permanent. So if you trim a birds wings they will grow back. Do you want to explain how we do that a little bit?

Sarah: Absolutely, one of the biggest misconceptions with some people is that they believe that clipping their birds wings will hurt them. It in fact, absolutely does not. It's much like clipping your own fingernails. We do it very moderately. We only trim enough off of the wing so that the bird can catch themselves and glide down to the ground.

We don't want them to crash or injure themselves. But we don't want them to catch any height. But even with this moderate wing trim, we still advise caution if you're going to take your birds outside, a good gust of wind can still take a bird with trimmed wings up into a tree.

Dr. Laurie: Yeah, and every year we lose a couple of patients because people forget that wings grow back. We trim the outermost five or six feathers, the primary feathers. We will show people how to do this at home. A lot of people are not comfortable doing this. But before you take your bird out, particularly if you're out in the countryside or you're taking your bird out at all, you need to test fly them inside.

That means let them jump off the table and make sure they don't get lift sailing around your room. Because all it takes, as you said, is one gust of wind and away they go. It's not painful. It's really safe. They can still exercise and flap and still move around, but they really do not need to be flying around your house and getting into danger.

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