Should I clip my bird's wings?

Updated: Aug 2

We are going to talk about one of the TOP 5 most controversial topics within the avian community - WING CLIPPING! Let's start off with some education of terms before we jump into the best practices of Pikes Peak Parrot Rescue...

This is a great picture to help you understand that the first primary flight feather is actually called "Primary Flight Feather #10." This photo also explains a "Baby Clip", which at 3PR we call a "Trim to a glide" clip. When we refer to which feathers will be trimmed below, you can refer back to this chart to see which feathers we are actually trimming.

"Standard Clip"

You will see that the first 4-6 primary flight feathers below the second row of feathers (known as the dorsal major primary covert feathers) are trimmed in this photo. This clip left primary feathers #1-#5 in place (See chart above for feather numbers).

"Show Clip"

You will be able to see in this photo that #3-#5 primary flight feathers were trimmed and #6-#10 primary flight feathers were left in tact. This is often called a show clip.

"Hack Job"

Believe it or not, we see birds come in to 3PR that look like this all of the time. It is heartbreaking knowing that they will have to live with this for the next year or so. We will leave it at that.

3PR's Best Practices with Wing Clipping

First of all, there are MANY factors that go into whether or not a bird's wings should be clipped. You will see most of the birds at 3PR have some level of clipping for their own safety. Birds are incredibly skilled at removing toes and feet from a neighboring bird that "dare land on my cage".

Parrots in captivity typically molt once or twice a year, so this is not a forever decision by any means. You know your birds better than anyone else. We have an Amazon that LOVES to fly, so we do not clip her as it brings her incredible joy. We have another bird that would get into all kinds of trouble if he could fly, so we keep him trimmed.

When you bring your birds to 3PR for grooming, we are going to ask a few questions...

  1. Has your bird ever been groomed before?

  2. Has your bird experienced any medical episodes during a previous grooming?

  3. Do you want the wings clipped and if so, do you want standard clip or a show clip?

3PR will typically explain to you what we think is the safest clip for a parrot (there are MANY opinions on this). The parrots that get clipped at 3PR will typically get what we call a "trim to a glide" clipping. This allows the bird to glide to the ground and land on her/his feet and not his/her chest (keel). The keel is extremely thin and prone to break with a hard landing and this is usually fatal. ALL of the birds that get clipped at 3PR are "trimmed to a glide". Many come in like the "hack job" above and we urge people to not place their bird at any height until their feathers grow back in.

The team at 3PR does not KNOW IT ALL, we simply have learned many lesson through years of experience and we want to share that knowledge with this incredible avian community. Let us know how we can serve you at Pikes Peak Parrot Rescue. It can be a phone call or over a cup of coffee...

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