Is It Better To Clip Your Parrot’s Wings Or Not?

Black Cockatoo flying left to right
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Somehow everybody pigeon holes (good one, mitch) wing clipping to just the activity of flight.

Let’s consider more negative implications for wing clipping.

We already know that wing clipping can trigger feather plucking.

Birds and parrots use wings not only for flight but for balance when standing.

Clip 24 large primary flight feathers and a parrots sense of balance is reduced while partially losing the ability to counter balance.

Then trim their toenails, (which most humans do or have done while clipping their wings), put them back in a cage with a new fangled perch, cover them up at night, and one loud sound of fireworks or a gunshot (writing from Chicago) and the bird freaks out, flaps uncontrollably breaking a wing while falling to the bottom of their cage, having no lift to stop the fall.

I’ll let that visual sink in for a moment.

Another answer to the question “does wing clipping make a bird any safer”?


Wing clipping puts your bird at risk.

Birds get hormonal.

I hear both mortal human beings as well as veterinarians say “let’s teach your bird a lesson and clip their wings”.

I know that when I get a haircut I don’t necessarily want to choke the life out of another human being any less.

No one has yet explained to me the correlation between wing trimming and bad hormonal behavior.

There’s no nerves in a bird’s wing feathers (except where attached to the body) nor any blood vessels which is why the birds don’t feel their wing feathers getting cut and mature feather shafts do not bleed.

What is the message physically/physiologically being sent to the birds brain that would calm them down?

If your bird is hormonal, its circadian rhythms are probably confused and need to be reset with light therapy.

Light therapy is simple, cheap and benign but that’s part of another conversation.

If anything, wing trimming will make your bird act even more hormonal.

Parrots are prey animals. They have a bite or flight mentality.

I’ve gotten thousands of inquiries over the years about biting birds.

The first question I ask is “are the birds wings clipped”?

If the bird knows it can’t fly away, it’s more likely to bite YOU.

If there are other prey animals in the house (cats and dogs) it is much easier for a bird to escape via flight.

Floor walking birds are more likely stepped on or crushed in doorways than flighted birds that can escape harm.

Birds don’t need our help to fly – THEY ARE BIRDS!

If we are to keep them flighted in our home we need to teach them how to land and follow some simple “best practices”, which we will get to in a moment.

Addressing safety issues like keeping your bird from flying into a mirror or a window is common sense.

Make sure there are no mirrors in the room the bird is in.

We keep our apartment windows (that go up to 9½ feet) covered with colorful stained glass, lots of pretty but fake orchids and one very large mother-in-laws tongue plant. (which yes, is poisonous, but Peaches has no interest in plants and is always supervised, and never goes in that room).

Also published on Medium.


He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.