Clip those feathers

Over the past 48 hours we have received two calls for help, asking for assistance in recovering a bird who has escaped to the great outdoors. One is still missing. The other has been located, but refuses to come down from its lofty perch. Its been stuck high in a tree for three days now with no food or water. Both birds will likely not survive for long and the owners are devastated. These stories serve as a reminder to be constantly aware of your birds flight status, and to get those flight feathers trimmed before they start to regain lift.

Typical companion parrots can easily fly up to a mile away from home before ever landing. Far enough to be well outside the usual search perimeter established by a surprised owner. Pet parrots also often lack the skills necessary to survive in the wild, relying on their human counterparts to provide food and water on a regular basis. Birds bred and kept in captivity have the same instinctive urge to fly as their free counterparts. If allowed outside in open space unsupervised, your unclipped bird will fly away.

Some pet bird owners wrongly believe an unclipped tame bird will choose not to leave if given the choice. This just isn’t true, and the vast majority of tame birds that fly away from home do not survive for long. Just a short time outside in winter temperatures, for example, can be fatal to a tropical bird.

Nearly all exotic birds entering the pet trade have their wings clipped very early in life. This teaches them in a roundabout way their wings don’t work and not to rely on them. Trimmed birds tend to be more docile than unclipped birds because they are unable to make independent choices about where they want to go and when. They are essentially captives to their perches. Wing clipping is done primarily for safety reasons, not to intentionally alter the attitude of the bird. A clipped bird is far less likely to injure itself by:

  • Flying into a wall if spooked
  • Landing on a hot surface
  • Flying into a ceiling fan
  • Gliding out a door or window left open
  • Flying into a closed window

The goal of clipping is to reduce your pet’s flight to no more than a downward glide. Proper trimming will dramatically reduce his ability to fly vertically or horizontally.

If your bird is not clipped, we urge you to get them to the Vet and get those feathers trimmed. If you are unable to afford a Vet visit, or there is no one qualified to do it in your area, please contact us and we will do it for you, free of charge. Your bird will be much safer, and will be able to spend some quality supervised time outdoors. The fresh air and sunshine will do wonders for your birds disposition and appearance.

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