Bird Care – What Feathers to Clip When Clipping Your Bird’s Wings

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,948
    Susan Vandenbroek from FeatherHeads in Sterling Virginia discusses what feathers to clip when clipping your bird’s wings.

    Hi! I am Suzanne at Featherheads and this Rob our Certified Avian Specialist on staff here. Before we actually show you how to clip the wings, we are going to show you the formation of a wing and the different types of clips that are available. First of all, the wing feathers are composed of the primary flight, which are the first layer. If you consider these primary flight, these are the coverts the primary coverts and these are the under wing coverts. Notice the under wing coverts are actually shorter than the upper okay, If you turn it back over.

    Alright, one of the clips that we can do is to clip just the inner primaries, leaving the first three flight feathers. The reason I dont prefer this type of the clip is, the birds can fly with it. Ive actually seen a green wing who had the first three feathers unclipped and the whole rest of his primary and secondary flight feathers were clipped. He was flying above someones house. What I prefer -- another type of the clip which I find is not satisfactory is, we showed you here the upper coverts and the under coverts. One of the clips, very pretty and produces a very nice clip, is to clip the wing just slightly under the lower covert. This means you have very little of the shaft left in the bird.

    It typically doesnt grow back very quickly. Theres some problems with the bird re-growing its flight feathers. Again not one I recommend. It all tends to produce if they do grow them back, they are further up on there body and they tend to produce more itching on the sides of the bird. Another wing clip that has been used is to clip a single side. Problem with that one is, it causes a bird to spiral down to the ground. All of these produce problems; it may crack the keel bone, which does require veterinary assistance. You want to use a clipping of the first several primary flight feathers. It varies from bird to bird, typically the smaller the bird, the more the flight feathers you need to clip to control flight. You dont want the bird to drop to the ground like a rock, rather you want the bird to get some flight a glide path out and glide gently to the ground. So, some of the typical recommendations that we use, are the smaller birds you may need eight to ten feathers to control a cockatiel, a parrotlet a lovebird are on the side of caution, fewer rather than greater to start with. As you get into the medium sized bird, the mini Macaws, the small cockatoos, probably as many as seven feathers. Another with a larger cockatoos, we mainly take six or seven feathers. Again the large Macaws, typically seven feathers will control the flight. The big exception to the rule is the African Grey. Grey tend to be very clumsy; they tend to be aerodynamically unsound. Try three, move up to five, it generally never takes more than five to control a Greys flight. I dont consider any of these clips to be safe outside, even with you. You probably want to have your bird either in a carrier or in a flight suit something that you can control whats going on. You dont typically clip, the inner portion here are the what give the bird lift.

    So, the inner portions of the feathers are what gives the bird lift. Out in the wind they can get some lift. You dont want any accidents to happen; there are other birds of prey out there that may actually even grab a parrot while you are watching. So never trust your bird even if it is clipped in the outdoors. Weve now been talking about how the feathers are formed and what you want to clip. Were not going to show you actually how to clip the bird.