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Wings – To Clip Or Not To Clip

Wings – To Clip Or Not To Clip


I would like to briefly address the subject of wing clipping. To Clip Or Not To Clip

First, there are strong arguments both for and against clipping your bird’s wings.  A clipped bird is perhaps more free to be out on a play stand among his people since he won’t be able to fly around and cause havoc.  If a clipped bird happens to get outside he is easily caught and returned to a safe Wings – To Clip Or Not To Clipenvironment.  Additionally, clipping a parrots wings often times settles them down in the case of an aggressive, poorly behaved bird.

The flip side is…birds are suppose to fly!  A young african grey actually needs to fly to begin the process of confidence building.  Greys can be fairly clumsy and flying helps them to build agility, stamina, muscle tone and confidence.  A well trained bird that will fly to you when called is truly a thrill.  If the bird should escape outside chances are he will fly back to you if he has done this in the past.

Both our birds have had their wings clipped.  They were clipped when we brought them home as babies and consequently we were able to bring them outside with us knowing they couldn’t fly off.  As mentioned before, we use to live in a motor home and having our babies outside with us at a campground stirred a lot of interest and assisted in meeting some wonderful people along the way.

The downside was, at the time, Carlie’s wings weren’t properly clipped (they were way to short) and as a result her flight feathers didn’t come in correctly and she couldn’t fly for over a year as a baby.  She wasn’t able to develop that confidence that all birds need to be, well, a bird.  Our male had flown early in his young life and he teased Carlie relentlessly because of it.  She wasn’t able to escape his wrath.

When Carlie finally did take her first flight, she started flapping and lifted off the top of her cage, straight up, hovering there like a helicopter.  She didn’t know how to use her tail to control her flight and I literally reached up and gently tweaked her tail to show her how to move forward, etc.  It’s funny now but at the time it was very sad to see this young bird try to figure out flight when that should of happened when she was only months old.

Today Carlie is fully capable of flight, is a skilled aviator and will come to me on demand.  We don’t clip her wings and haven’t in years.  Dylon, on the other hand, stays clipped and I actually think he is a bit more satisfied with that, not to mention it helps with his behavior.

Dylon is a ‘I wanna be on you all the time’ sort of a grey and has been that way from the day we would visit him at his playpen before we purchased him.  There he saw my wife Carla, crawled along this small wooden wall of his playpen (there were 8 baby greys all milling around those days) and matter of factually climbed onto her belt hanging there as if to say “take me home, I’m your new baby”.  The look in  Carla’s eyes was priceless!

To sum this up, clipping your birds wings is a personal decision based on several factors.  Wings – To Clip Or Not To Clip, you decide.

Should you decide that clipping is necessary, take your bird to a qualified avian vet.  Have the vet show you the proper way to clip a bird’s wings.  This involves removing a certain amount of the flight feathers while leaving the smaller balancing feathers inside the wing closer to the body uncut.  If your grey is a baby (only months old) I would recommend that you hold off on his first clipping until he is fully capable of flight and has developed his confidence as a young bird.

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3 Responses to "Wings – To Clip Or Not To Clip"

  1. millan says:

    i just bought a congo african grey
    i need to know what diet quantity as she eats what ever i give i mean is there any limit of any thing ?

  2. Bob says:

    It’s not so much of ‘how much’ as it is how often. If your bird gets plenty of exercise, feed say a heaping table spoon full of whatever you intend to feed several times a day. They will eat until they are full, of course.

    Our two for example wake up to a few african grey kibbles, a low salt cracker, a spoonful of scrambled egg or occasionally some cooked no salt oatmeal. A few hours later (late morning) they get some fruits or a good bite of what we might be having for lunch, such as noodles (from soup), cooked chicken, a chicken leg bone, etc. Early to mid afternoon they get a couple of roasted, no salt, peanuts in the shell. Late afternoon they get some raw, no salt nuts (almonds, cashews etc) more fruits and veggies. Then just before bed time we give them about a table spoon full of their african grey kibbles for overnight.

    Make sure she gets plenty of exercise and keep her food bowl clean of excess and lots of fresh water.

  3. Kelly McGillivray says:

    I have recently re-adopted my african grey (Cuckoo)who lived with my uncle for 10 of his 13 years, as he started attacking me when I fell pregnant with my daughter. My uncle has subsequently semi retired and can’t spend as much time with him anymore, so he has come home and he is being entertained and entertaining. A little time after coming home a family friend of my uncles was also not spending enough time with his parrot (Spunky), so she (presumtion) is also living with us now.
    They seem to be happy, Cuckoo has had his wings clipped and Spunky has a damaged wing (bad clipping I think); I would like to find out how best to introduce them to each other, they are living in seperate cages at the moment, and every time I have taken them into the open together Cuckoo the dominant bird charges Spunky, and i don’t let them get to close together but with some advice I would love for them to be friends, how can I acheive this?

    Kelly – Johannesburg, South Africa