Home » Should You Clip a Parrots Wings? [Pros vs. Cons of Wing Clipping]
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Should You Clip a Parrots Wings? [Pros vs. Cons of Wing Clipping]

(Last Updated On: October 9, 2022)

Wing clipping is a normal part of keeping a parrot for some owners, while for others clipping a parrot’s wings as being unnecessary or cruel.

Nearly all parrots can fly, and to take that ability away might feel like you’re removing a parrot’s basic right. The truth is that the ethics of the wing-clipping process is open to debate.

You should clip your parrot’s wings if you’re concerned about them flying into household objects, such as ceiling fans. This will also prevent it from escaping if you leave a door or window open.

However, clipping a parrot’s wings will compromise its ability to exercise, and some parrots become depressed or anxious when unable to fly.

Parrots aren’t physically harmed when their wings are trimmed. The parrot will be fine if the upper wings’ nerves, tissues, muscles, and blood vessels are left alone.

If the feathers are cut incorrectly, this can lead to bleeding or the feathers’ inability to regrow.

Is It Cruel To Clip A Parrot’s Wings?

As stated, clipping won’t cause lasting harm to the wings when the process is carried out correctly. The exception is if the parrot’s feathers are trimmed incorrectly, which happens when the owner:

  • Trims the feathers too short. You may cut into nerves and blood vessels, causing pain.
  • Cuts too many feathers. Parrots have non-flight feathers that are used for temperature regulation and general comfort.
  • Cuts in a bad pattern. This could unbalance the weight or length of the feathers, causing strain.

Never cut a baby parrot’s wings, as the muscles, nerves, and tissues are still developing.

Baby parrots rely on the weight of the feathers to remain balanced, so you may cause developmental issues and muscle damage to the chest.

can parrots still fly with clipped wings?

Pros And Cons of Clipping Parrots’ Wings

Before you decide if your parrot’s wings need a trim, let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks:

Advantages of Wing Clipping

If you keep the parrot indoors rather than in an aviary, there are many perks to trimming the wings:

Protection from Danger

It’s natural for a parrot to fly, but it can be dangerous in the home.

Flying exposes the parrot to fans, windows, mirrors, and cooking pots. If your parrot crashes into any of these solid objects, it could be seriously injured.

That’s more likely to happen when parrots are startled, taking off without warning or due thought. By clipping the wings, your parrot can’t fly at great speed or over a distance of ground. 

Unable To Fly Away

Parrots may escape through a window that’s been left open. Some parrots can fly at 50 mph and travel great distances if they find a good wind current.

If your parrot’s wings are trimmed, it’ll be unable to fly away from home, which is important because an escaped parrot is unlikely to survive in the wild.

Bonding

The parrot will rely on you to pick it up and take it to different places.

If walking is the only effective way to get anywhere now that it can’t fly, sitting on an owner’s shoulder to navigate the home will be more appealing.

Disadvantages of Wing Clipping

Despite the benefits, there are negatives to trimming wings. Consequently, you may find it worthwhile to parrot-proof your home and be aware of any potential pitfalls. Here are some considerations:

Lack of Exercise

A parrot that can’t fly can’t exercise. Parrots have feet and can walk, but it’s no substitute for flying.

Birds have over 175 muscles, most of which contribute to their wings. Without the ability to fly, their chest muscles will weaken, and your parrot will struggle to get the exercise it needs.

Never Learns To Fly

If you trim a parrot’s wings while young, it may never learn to fly. The breast muscles responsible for maintaining its wingspan won’t properly develop, so the parrot will lose its instinct for flying.

Psychological Damage

Parrots with clipped wings are more likely to experience depression and other forms of psychological damage. This could lead to self-destructive behavior, such as feather plucking.

Can Parrots Still Fly With Clipped Wings?

Even with trimmed flight feathers, a parrot can fly a short distance. It can glide around if standing on its cage or another tall object.

The parrot will still struggle to gain elevation, and the flight will lack coordination, which may cause it to crash randomly around the home as it adjusts to its short wings.

Your parrot should adapt to the new wingspan, so it’ll avoid flying and use its ability to flutter. Once the parrot’s wings grow back to their full length, your parrot will begin flying again.

Do Clipped Wings Grow Back?

Clipped wings will grow back in parrots. Since feathers are made of keratin, they can regenerate. After a trim, it’ll take 6-12 months for feathers to grow back to their full length.

The only exception is if you cut the wings badly. If you’ve caused muscle or nerve damage while trimming them, they might be unable to regenerate properly.

bird behavior after wing clipping

Bird Behavior After Wing Clipping

Clipping is strenuous for your parrot, so it may feel stressed, anxious, confused, or angry about your behavior. Reactions will vary from mild to extreme, including:

  • Retreating to its cage as soon as it’s let go
  • Attempting to escape the towel when you loosen your grip
  • Pouting and remaining quiet
  • Screaming or squawking
  • Attempting to bite you
  • Ignoring you

Some parrots will continue this way for several hours. Others will forgive you after a few minutes or once you offer them some food. Parrots’ trust can be broken easily, and they don’t forget personal slights, so reassuring them is important. Reinforce the bond with your parrot by:

  • Taking the parrot to its cage while still in the towel.
  • Placing it inside the cage and undoing enough of the towel so it can free itself.
  • Giving it 5-10 minutes while you wait quietly nearby.
  • Speaking softly and happily to the parrot as you approach.
  • Offering it a treat and praising it for allowing the wing trimming to happen.
  • After 1-2 hours, once it’s gauged its balance without primary feathers, take it out of the cage.
  • Sit on the floor with it so if it flutters, but doesn’t fall too far.
  • Play with and encourage the parrot, offering it another snack.

Let your parrot know that you still love it, the situation is safe, and that it’s not being punished. If things go well, your parrot should adapt to its lack of flight feathers.