Education Articles For You!

How wing clipping effects a parrot:

Wing clipping is controversial. On every internet forum and Facebook group you will see heated debates about whether one should clip their bird’s wings. This article is not about that debate. This article is about what physically and mentally happens to a bird when its wings are clipped. Once you understand what wing clipping is and its effects, I believe you will be able to make the best decision for your bird.

What is wing clipping? Wing clipping is when a bird’s flight feathers are cut to prevent the bird from flying well. Some people equate clipping a bird’s wings to clipping a human’s hair. They are not equivalent. Feathers play a vital role to a bird’s mental and physical health.

On the most basic level when you clip a bird’s wings you are preventing the bird from flying well. Usually only the flight feathers are cut on a bird’s wings; although there are different methods to wing clipping. Please note even though a bird’s wings are clipped a gust of wind can still carry your bird off.

Birds are prey animals. If a parrot thinks it is in danger the fight or flight instinct kicks in. If a bird can fly away from the perceived danger it will choose to fly every time. A clipped bird cannot fly away when it is scared which will then trigger its fight response. Clipped birds are generally are more aggressive and more likely to bite. This can cause long term problems for the bird and its family. One of the number one reasons a bird is given away is because it becomes aggressive.

One of the most consequential effects of clipping a young birds wings before they have learned to fly is that the bird does not achieve full brain development. In his article, Optimal Neuropathway Development of the Psittacine, author Stephen T. Hartman states that  “within 30 to 90 days after the juvenile begins to leave the nest, he will have learned as much as 75% of everything he needs to achieve his optimal potential (I.Q.)”

He further goes on to state that “quite rapidly a parrot must program the parts of the brain responsible for flight, foraging, predator avoidance, body language interpretation, social etiquette and language ability. Each area of the brain has an optimal time frame for development. Skipping an important stage, like development of the cerebellum, can have catastrophic consequences and severely limit the ability of the adult parrot to thrive. Improper or delayed development of the cerebellum will significantly affect vision and self esteem, which ultimately leads to an individual unable to appropriately respond to its environment. These birds will have a greater tendency toward antisocial behavior like biting, screaming and feather mutilation as an adult.”

In the wild most of a parrot’s exercise come from flight. In captivity if a bird can’t fly it can become overweight. An overweight bird is more likely to have liver failure, predisposed to developing cancer, and can even have a hard time perching.

A study done by Dr. Scott Echols found that birds that are clipped have lower bone density which increases the chances of the bird breaking his or her bones. Flying is unique form of exercise. It is a weight bearing exercise which creates greater bone density.

Clipping feathers also increases the chances of you of having problems with blood feathers. The molting sequence that occurs when feathers are clipped regularly make it more likely that the bird’s blood feathers are damaged. A blood feather is a pin feather that is coming in. Unlike other feathers it has a blood supply going through it. If it is damaged the bird can experience severe blood loss.

Clipping your bird’s wings is ultimately your choice. Everyone must evaluate you their own bird to determine what is best for it. I sincerely hope that with this information about what happens to your bird, both physically and mentally, when its wings are clipped you will be able to make the best choice for you feathered companion.

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