Last Updated on: 4th July 2023, 11:51 am
Clipping a parrot’s wings involves cutting away the primary feathers used for flight.
Wing clipping isn’t intended to make flight impossible but to restrict it so the parrot can’t fly through an open window or endanger itself.
The process won’t be permanent if a parrot’s wings are clipped correctly. Like all birds, parrots periodically molt their feathers, shedding worn and damaged ones and regrowing healthy replacements.
How long this process takes depends on when you clip the wings. If the parrot starts molting immediately after wing clipping, it may be able to fly again within several weeks.
However, clipping the wings after a molt could mean it takes up to a year before the feathers regrow.
Clipping a parrot’s wings is a delicate process. While it can be conducted at home by a knowledgeable owner, it’s advisable to get the process performed by an avian veterinarian.
If done wrong, wing clipping can permanently disable flight. If mistakes are made, and the follicles are severed or damaged somehow, the feathers may never regrow properly.
Is Clipping a Bird’s Wings Permanent?
Preventing a parrot from flying involves denying it a natural, instinctive behavior. Fortunately, the feathers will regrow, as the only time wing clipping is permanent is when the follicles are harmed.
To understand how wing clipping works, consider the anatomy of the wing. Primary feathers, or fingertip feathers, propel a bird through the air; secondary feathers are shorter, sustaining the ability to glide.
Most vets only recommend clipping the primary feathers if you decide to proceed.
While both sets of feathers will regrow when a parrot molts its feathers, secondary feathers will allow hovering and gliding while the parrot adjusts to a life of limited flight.
How Long Do Clipped Wings Last?
Assuming the process was completed safely, a parrot’s wings will remain clipped until it next molts. A parrot will replace all primary, secondary, and tail feathers during a scheduled molt.
Even clipped birds can still glide in a strong wind, despite being deprived of their primary feathers. So, only take a parrot outside in a secure cage or on a harness, or you may never see them again.
How Long Does it Take for Flight Feathers to Grow Back?
This depends on a range of factors, primarily the parrot species. Some parrots molt more frequently than others and complete the process sooner.
Smaller parrots molt with greater frequency (up to 3 times a year), but the process concludes faster. Larger parrots usually only molt once a year, but it can be up to 2 months before the molt concludes.
If you want to clip the parrot’s wings to restrict flight for as long as possible, clip it after a molt concludes.
How Long Does it Take for Tail Feathers to Grow Back?
Tail feathers regrow following a molt, just like wing feathers, but there’s no need to clip them. While the tail is used to change direction and elevation during flight, clipping them won’t ground a parrot.
If you plan to clip a parrot’s tail feathers, it’s advised that you arrange this with a vet. Cutting the follicles can cause severe bleeding or permanent wing damage.
Why Won’t My Birds Clipped Wings Grow Back?
New feathers should regrow if you’ve completed the wing clipping process correctly. If this doesn’t happen, there are several possible explanations why:
- Bacterial or viral infections like Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease stunt feather growth.
- The parrot is plucking its feathers, potentially damaging the follicles.
- Diet is inappropriate, lacking calcium and protein.
- Lack of exposure to sunlight or artificial UVB light.
- Excessive heat or a lack of humidity leads to dry skin.
- Injury to the pin feathers.
Monitor the parrot after its molt to see if it appears happy and healthy.
How Do You Encourage Feathers to Grow?
After clipping the wings, you may be concerned about a lack of feather growth. As per The Condor, care for a parrot that needs to regrow feathers should be the same as during the breeding season.
Mental and Physical Stimulation
If a parrot is stressed or bored, it’ll struggle to regrow feathers that have been shed.
In extreme mental or emotional distress, the parrot may pluck its feathers. The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine warns that this behavior can be common.
The calmer you keep the parrot, the likelier it is to grow feathers at a healthy rate. Ensure the following:
- Establish a reliable routine for the parrot.
- Provide toys and puzzles in the cage.
- Release the parrot from its cage for 2-4 hours of exercise.
- Interact with the parrot, playing games and teaching it words.
This mental and physical stimulation will help the parrot achieve full regrowth of its wings.
The optimum temperature for most parrots is between 65OF and 80OF.
Although most species hail from tropical climes and like warm temperatures, parrots can get too hot. If the bird is overheating, its skin may dry out, making feather regrowth difficult and uncomfortable.
Be mindful of artificial heat sources during the winter, as these will adversely affect the skin.
Use a spray bottle to occasionally mist the parrot’s skin for comfort while keeping the skin moist. If you get an external humidifier, set it to around 55%.
Exposure to natural sunlight can encourage feather growth in parrots, but it carries risks. For example, positioning a parrot’s cage by a window can lead to overheating.
Sunlight is needed to synthesize Vitamin D3 and facilitate calcium absorption.
Get a UVB lamp if you need an alternative to natural light. Use a timer plug with this lighting source to imitate the sun’s rise and fall, which will help the parrot maintain its circadian rhythms.
Foods that are ideal for a parrot during the regrowth of its wings include:
- Dark, leafy greens, especially kale, spinach, and broccoli.
- Boiled eggs.
- Lean meat and fish.
- Cuttlefish bone.
Also, consider parrot-friendly supplements while the wings are regrowing.
Discuss this option with a veterinarian because too much protein (hyperproteinemia) or excessive calcium (hypercalcemia) can lead to mineralization and kidney problems.
Why is My Parrot Not Flying After its Feathers Grow Back?
Just because a parrot has regrown its wings doesn’t mean it’ll immediately recommence flight. Humans learn to walk before running, and parrots must regain the confidence to fly.
No matter how old the parrot is, assume it’s a fledgling that has never flown. It could be up to 18 months before a parrot can confidently fly around the home.
Clipping a parrot’s wings won’t be permanent if you complete the process correctly. Only clip a bird’s wings if necessary, and be prepared for the regrowth of the feathers.