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How To Clip a Bird's Wings

Clipping a bird's wings means you can safely allow it plenty of time out of its cage.


  • Step 1: Wait to clip your feathered friend's wings until it has learned to fly. Birds need to learn aerial maneuvering so they can balance and land properly.
  • Step 2: Close all the doors and windows in the room where your bird is caged. Make sure the room is quiet and well lit. While speaking soothingly, gently remove the bird from its cage.
  • TIP: Your bird will be calmer if you talk to it whenever you reach into its cage. If you stay silent, you might seem like a predator.
  • Step 3: Sit down with the bird positioned on its back, on the towel, on your lap. Wrap the bird in the towel. Take special care not to press on the bird's chest, and open the towel just enough to expose one of the bird's wings. Spread the wing.
  • TIP: If this is your first time clipping your bird's wings, or your bird is large or unruly, you'll need another person to hold it while you spread its wings.
  • Step 4: Identify the primary flight feathers. Starting at the wing tip and moving in toward the bird's body, they're the first group of long feathers on the underside of the wing.
  • Step 5: Work one feather at a time. You can skip the two outermost flight feathers, to maintain the wing's appearance, or you can clip them. Carefully cut each of the primary flight feathers up to the major coverts -- the second layer of feathers on the wing, above the primary flight feathers. Clip the primary feather right up to the coverts.
  • : Be careful to avoid the bird's "blood feathers," which have an active blood supply. Their shafts are dark instead of translucent, and they have a visible blood vessel running through them. If you clip one, take the bird to the vet immediately.
  • Step 6: Repeat the process with the bird's other wing, and clean up the feathers with the broom and dustpan. Until the next wing-icure, you can relax with the knowledge that your bird is safe on your shoulder, on the top of its cage, or even playing on the kitchen table.
  • FACT: Kiwis, the national bird of New Zealand, look like they have no wings, because they are so small that their feathers hide them.

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