Written by Dr. Dr. Esteban Barajas

Bird wing clipping: there are several reasons why you may want to clip your bird’s feathers. Some people fear their pets may fly away, and they may never see them again. Others fear they may fly to areas in their home that are unsafe, such as an area with other predatory pets, or with other dangers such as kitchen fumes or toxins. Some people think their birds look better with clipped wings. These are valid concerns, and we will consider them when deciding if we should clip your bird’s wings.

Reason’s You May Not Want to Clip Your Birds Feathers

On the other hand, there are also reasons we may not want to clip your bird’s feathers. For example, feathers have a purpose and are not just cosmetic. They aim to help the bird fly. Specifically, it is an excellent way to escape predators. If a cat, dog, or other larger pet accidentally obtains access to your bird, it may not be able to escape, and this can lead to severe injury or death.

Birds Cannot Brake When Falling

Similarly, if your bird falls from a significant height, they can get seriously injured since they cannot “brake” generally as they would without their feathers clipped. Not braking correctly can lead to broken bones, pinched nerves, and chronic pain. Chronic pain can lead to lameness and obesity. Clipping feathers can also leave pointed edges irritating to the skin where the wing usually touches the body and can lead to feather plucking or self-mutilation. These are possible consequences we need to consider as well.

Benefits of Not Clipping Your Birds Wings

Besides evading or preventing immediate threats, there are other benefits to having natural wings. First, flying can be an excellent aerobic exercise that can have long term cardio health benefits. The ability to fly can also give birds psychological benefits and confidence since they know they can escape danger if needed. In that sense, it can help prevent obsessive-compulsive disorders. Those are some significant benefits to consider if we are wondering about clipping wings.

Ask Your Veterinarian if Clipping Wings will Hurt or Help Your Bird More

Wen it comes to bird wing clippping, you will need to decide with your veterinarian if clipping wings would help or hurt your bird more, and if we decide to clip, there is a new method that may reduce the cons and capitalize on the pros. This new method is explained further below:

Important things to consider once you have decided to clip:

  1. Never clip before . Flight is crucial for cardiac and bone health and development.
  2. A physical exam is needed to assess the health of the bird. Once the owner understands the risks, it is appropriate to proceed with trimming.

“The Skinny Repeal,” a new way to trim feathers:

  1. Only cut the trailing edge, outlined in purple above.
  2. Wings move faster, but they fly 1/3 the normal speed. More aerobic exercise, still able to evade predation or noxious stimuli because they can even fly minimally.
  3. They are unable to fly as strongly, so they are unlikely to fly away.
  4. They maintain normal flight posture, so chronic musculoskeletal issues may be reduced.
  5. Don’t poke themselves, no broken blood feathers, so decreased feather picking or plucking.
  6. Enough flight to decrease injuries when falling off of high places.

Ask your veterinarian about this clipping method at your next visit!


About Brook-Falls

Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital and Exotic Care is dedicated to providing quality care to all companion pets and exotic animals. Brook-Falls is a Menomonee Falls, WI-based full-service veterinary hospital with an extensive range of comprehensive medical, dental, diagnostic, and surgical services to meet the varying needs of all patients. Brook-Falls Veterinary also offers informational and educational media and seminars for pet owners by way of blogs, digital TV series (Expert Veterinary Television), e-books, whitepapers, infographics, and more.

For more information, contact Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care, Inc.