(For picture of wing & Budgie as sample see bottom.)
Wing clipping is usually done for the safety of the bird in a new home, and also to help it get used to its new owner. Usually when a young birds wings are trimmed it will bond with its owner sooner by hopping on your hand or finger to get back to its cage after it has tired itself out. The sample picture below is for the Budgie, but the procedure is the same for all birds such as Cockatiels, other Parakeet types and parrots. You should not attempt to clip your birds wings unless you are sure you know which feathers to clip and how far to clip. Never trim the wings so the bird cannot fly (our opinion only) as it may seriously harm a wing or a leg if it falls to the floor.
We have always suggested that when a person clips a birds wings that it clips them so the bird can still fly a little bit but not too far or fast. You can clip them a bit at a time until you see it struggling to fly. This will allow the bird to protect itself if it happens to fall off its cage or a persons hand or wherever. Always cover your windows for the 1st few weeks if you do allow your bird to fly around until it gets used to its surroundings. Thin sheers allow you to see out of the window and lets light in but will protect the bird if it flys into the window.
The best thing is to never cut the 2 main (longest primaries on each side) (#1 in photo) at all, but trim the ones next to them (maybe the next 6 or 8) 1/3 or 1/2 way. (The less you cut the 1st time the better until you are sure what you are doing). This will give the bird a better appearance by leaving the outer 2 primaries alone. Trimming can be done with a good, sharp pair if scissors. The birds wings are like your finger nails, if you cut too far you will draw blood. The trimming causes no pain to the bird at all, but pulling them out will. One main thing to consider when trimming the wings is to not let the bird hurt itself by flapping while you are holding it. The safest procedure is to have one person hold the bird while another trims the feathers. Let the bird fly and see how far and fast it goes. We use a large fine meshed fish net (from pet shop) to catch birds that are to hard to catch. If you feel it is not enough, than try the next step.
You can then trim the feathers in from the main flights (secondary coverts) (#4 in photo) 3 or 4 at a time a bit at a time ( 1/3 to 1/2 off) if necessary until you see the bird struggling to fly, but can still fly. (When you see the bird fly about 8 to 10 feet slowly and land on something or the floor because it is tired, that is just right.) The bird at this point will fly very slow and not harm itself if it hits a wall or a window etc. Usually only the 3rd to 8th primary or so need to be trimmed. Once you have done this it is easy to remember how much to trim from then on if necessary. Most birds are the same for trimming whether it is a Budgie, Cockatiel or a larger Parrot. Never trim one side and not the other as this will cause unbalance and still the bird can harm itself. This procedure takes a few minutes longer but will still allow the bird to appear normal with its long wings but have all of its speed and distance flying cut down a lot making it easy to catch if necessary or it will tire itself out fast if it tries to fly.
The birds wings will usually grow back in 4 to 6 weeks after this trimming.
Remember--do not attempt this yourself if you are unsure of which feathers to trim.
Any comments on the above would be appreciated while we will attempt to answer any other questions related to this subject.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.
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