Flighted Or Clipped Wings – Our Readers Weigh In

Senegal parrot landing on bush
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You asked whether our birds are flighted. 

 

All three of our birds – African Grey, Dusky Pionus, Cockatiel – are fully flighted. 

 

We have a lot of large windows in our apartment but so far we have not had a problem. 

 

They all have their favorite routes and pretty much stick to them. 

 

The only time we have clipped our bird’s wings is when we were traveling internationally and they had to go through the health and customs inspections at the airports.

Lisa Yano

Thank you for that Lisa.

 

FYI our philosophy is that flighted birds are healthier and more confident while being less hormonal and less apt to bite.

​Best

​MitchR

 

My Cockatoos wings are clipped.

It’s safer for him and I don’t have to worry about him flying into a window or out a door. P.S.

 

How old does a Cockatoo have to be before he is considered an “adult” bird?

 

My guy is 4 yrs. old.

 

Kathleen Zapiec

 

We respect your decision, Kathleen.

Cockatoos mature at 3 – 5 years depending upon the species

 

Feel free to reach out should you want further information on properly keeping a clipped bird in your home.

 

With all due respect to say that “it’s safer for him is not necessarily accurate.”

 

Birds use their wings not only for flight but for balance.

 

Typically pet birds will sleep high in the cage.

 

Birds can sleep on a perch even on one leg, here’s why.

 

The problem is, as a bird wakes up and the angle of its ankle changes to his feet start to open then he could more easily fall off the perch.

 

A bird may rely on his wings for balance but cannot achieve it because of the lack of flight feathers thus possibly incurring a fall from the top of the cage.

 

Something readily corrected by a full set of bird wings.

 

Conversely, there are many things that you can do to bird proof your home for a flighted bird.

 

Here’s a brief video on how we achieved this at our former residence.

 

 

Our intentions are not to dissuade you.

 

​We feel compelled to present both sides of the facts.

 

Thank you ever so much for being part of this important conversation.

 

Your comments will be shared with like-minded pet bird companions.

 

Best

​MitchR

 

In answer to your question is your bird flighted or clipped, we have a five year Quaker that is flighted. 

 

We are retired and he gets lots of exercise being able to fly at will all day almost all of most days.

 

He does get put in a cage during cooking or when we are gone for appointments, shopping, etc.

 

We love to hear stories like these Carolyn.

 

Thank you for sharing and we will do our part of sharing your story too.

 

Best

MitchR

 

Carolyn Book

Response to your Sunday AM question. 

My CAG (Cong African Grey is fully flighted. 

 

Got him as a baby 8 months old and he was trimmed, which I continued. 

 

About age 2 he was showing signs of neurosis without plucking thank goodness. 

 

The vet offered suggestions of herbal meds in his water to decrease anxiety to no avail.

 

I was reading everything I could to help find an answer when I came across “For the love of greys”.

 

Total enlightenment, Sid has been fully flighted and happy all these years. 

 

Much more to the story, but too much.

 

FYI Sid is 13 years old now.

Susan Ansley

 

We love flighted birds and happy endings Susan.

 

Thank you for sharing.

Best

MitchR

 

Hello have an 11-year-old African Grey Timneh, she has been clipped ever since I got her from a failing pet shop during the last bad recession. 

 

I don’t think she ever learned how to fly and I wish I could get her to learn, sometimes when she feels like it, she will bat her wings up and down rapidly but makes no effort to fly. 

 

I had taken her to a groomer nearby about every other month for toenail trims, and beak trim (just a bit off the point) and the groomer would always take off about four flight wings on each wing, would I be doing her any favors by asking the groomer to not trim her wings? 

 

Would she know how to fly out of instinct? 

 

have two rescue dogs, one an old guy, 16 and the other 4, they both respect the bird, and they know she is not a flying dinner…any advice? 

 

She talks to the dogs, they listen, like she says, 

 

“Hercules! Dakota! let’s go outside” and they both run to the door expecting it to open.

 

David Katz

Yes, David, your African grey has literally 100 million years of instinctual information she can draw on.

 

Given the scant details of her lifetime, I’m going to guess that she never “fledged”.

 

That means when she got to the point that her wing feathers were large enough for flight she should have been offered the opportunity to fly but was not.

 

The problem with clipped wings and toenails (I’ll get to beaks in a minute) is a lack of stability provided for a bird perched high in the cage especially on a sleeping perch.

 

As I related to another pet bird keeper recently, the problem is as a bird wakes up his ankle changes angle, and starts to open up his feet so he could possibly fall off the perch which is readily corrected by a full set of bird wings.

 

A bird relies on his wings for balance but cannot achieve it because of the lack of flight feathers thus possibly incurring a fall from the top of the cage.

 

As for trimming the bird’s beak, we advocate that no one other than an avian veterinarian should trim a birds beak.

Most people assume it’s solid keratin but in fact, it has millions of sensory receptors called Corpuscles of Herbst.

 

The pain caused by accidentally tripping over any of those receptors during a grooming session is unimaginable for a bird.

 

The tip of the beak is also used for feeding especially cracking open nuts.

 

You are literally handicapping your bird when you trim its beak and we take a deep dive into that subject here.

 

You’ll never know if your dogs think your bird is a flying dinner or not.

 

Dogs (and cats) are prey animals which can’t be taken away from them.

 

A bird who is flighted with the ability to escape a dog’s irrational behavior is far safer than the possibility of being trapped by a large paw.

 

This article entitled Clicker training videos for birds – from tricks to flight may be helpful.

 

Another way of teaching a bird to fly is to play catch with it.

 

Work with someone who is readily accepted by your bird and stand a couple of feet away and toss the bird to the other person, then back.

 

Increase your distance with each throw much like that miserable game you were forced to play of egg catch at the miserable family picnic you were forced to attend as a kid.

 

I’m sure you get the idea.

 

Feel free to reach out should you have further questions.

Best

MitchR

 

Our 4-1/2-year-old female Eclectus parrot is flighted

 

parrot 906312 640 Flighted Or Clipped Wings   Our Readers Weigh In

Laurie Witt

 

Thank you for that Laurie.

 

We appreciate the feedback and will share with like-minded pet bird keepers.

Best

MitchR

 

We have an African Grey.

Her wings are clipped.

 

She can roam around the top of her cage next to a door that is open for our cats to come and go.

 

Thank you for that Clarke.

We appreciate the feedback and will share with like-minded pet bird keepers.

Best

MitchR

 

Clarke  Scherff

Sunday brunch answer:

7 yr male Timneh (African grey), raised from a fledgling- had twisted feather roots as a young bird.

 

Grew out of it at 4. 

 

Fully flighted and free ranges the house at least several hours a day.

 

30+ yr male Yellow-Naped Amazon, an unknown number of previous homes. 

 

4 years with us and we never close his door unless there are strangers coming over. 

 

He has lost 2 pounds and can fly, but has arthritis and prefers to walk.

 

So, the answer to my household is “They are fully feathered since they came to us. 

 

Flight is their choice.”

 

Becky Avery

Hi Becky,

 

I love the story about your grey.

 

On the other hand, your yellow-naped Amazon that lost 2 pounds and now has arthritis begs a couple of questions.

 

  1. Has the arthritis been confirmed with an x-ray?
  2. In that, a yellow-naped Amazon’s typical weight is between 1 and 1-1/4 pounds, and yours lost 2, I would surmise that your bird has an illness that goes beyond arthritis and would advocate a complete veterinary checkup by an avian vet if it all possible.

Let us know how this pans out.

Best

MitchR

 

Jul 3, 12:39pm

Sorry, I left out a fact about the Amazon.

The avian vet (Stephen Anderson of Paws & Claws, Wilmington NC) told me that he is “the largest” yellow-nape male he’s seen.

 

When I got him 4 years ago, his free-feed snack was Werther’s hard buttercreams and he weighed over 3 pounds.

 

He’s had 2 eye surgeries to get hard cysts off his inner eyelids and his belly was dragging.

 

His current weight is 3/4 pound, cholesterol is now normal, and blood panel is normal.

 

No cysts for a year, and strong enough to swing himself up and over from a perch to the playground on top of his day cage by his beak.

 

Last well-bird check (every six months and going in two weeks) Doc says he’s getting arthritis in his jaw and shoulders.

 

His beak is overgrowing to the left and has to be trimmed twice a year. He can fly now (as well as using ladders, and purring with the music on TV)

 

From opaque to clarity – thank you for that Becky

 

Elaine Flaherty

Mitch & Catherine:

To answer your question about “is your bird clipped or flighted”?

My Mango Gold Capped Conure is flighted.

 

When I got him 9-months ago his wings were clipped.

 

I have read numerous articles about the pro/cons of both situations but I think that since I have a cat he is better off to have his wings.

Now mind you, the cat and Mango are NEVER out at the same time in the same room unattended.

 

I thought about keeping Mango’s wings clipped but then his royal blue flight feathers started coming in and they are sooooo beautiful that I would hate to clip them.

 

In fact, I’m not sure that Mango even knows how to fly since I think his wings have been clipped since he was young. I also want him to get exercise having his wings than not.

 

What is your take?

Elaine

 

“I think that since I have a cat he is better off to have his wings” sums it up Elaine.

 

​The exercise is not only physically rewarding for Mango but it also keeps negative hormonal activity reduced.

 

Thank you for your feedback, it’s most appreciated.

​Best 

​MitchR​

 

We have a female yellow collar and a male Hahns (Macaw). 

 

Are Mini Macaws The “Second Bananas” Of Macaws?

 

The last 4 years the female has laid 2 eggs. 

 

They are never fertile. 

 

We let her sit on them for a month and then discard them. 

 

Do you feel this is the right approach?

Thank you

 

Hi William,

Good news bad news.

 

2 eggs a year isn’t bad in terms of drawing caloric resources from your female Hahns.

 

Hahns macaw on male hand Flighted Or Clipped Wings   Our Readers Weigh In

 

During the brooding period, it’s important to ensure that she gets supplemental calcium.

 

If she is carrying eggs during a molt, it is even more important in supplemental vitamins may need to be introduced.

 

In answer to your question, though do not let her sit on the eggs.

 

The moment each egg is revealed they should be disposed of immediately

 

This helps reduce her “wanting to make babies” state of mind.

 

Moving forward you may want to consider light therapy – find info here

 

Best MitchR

 

Ellen Jefferies

Our Macaw is flighted. 

 

We never take him outside. 

 

When we first had him, he was clipped and my husband took him outside. 

 

One day this clipped bird hopped off his perch, caught ground effect and ended up 40 feet up in a tree.

 

That was the end of clipping and taking him outside since I’ve never been comfortable with using a leash on a bird.

 

When we had a small conure he was left unclipped so he could escape the dogs

 

Thank you for that Ellen.

It is scary when you learn from experience but I think you got it all.

 

We appreciate your feedback, thank you.

Best

MitchR

John Hollon

We have two Goffins, Jazzy & Tiki, both are flighted.

 

Probably a little more challenging; but the obvious joy Tiki gets from flying and the increased danger avoidance provided to them both far outweighs any extra attitude we might face.

 

We love to hear stories like this John thank you.

Best

MitchR

 

Arrie Hammel

My 4 birds, Yellow Collared macaw, B&G, Red Bellied, and Meyers parrots are all flighted.

 

However, only the Poi’s fly. The two macaws do not.

 

Interesting Arrie,

 

Usually, it’s “monkey see, monkey do.”

 

It sounds like you have a happy flock.

Best 

MitchR

 

Cherie Smith

My Senegal is flighted.

 

I had him clipped when he was just brought home for training, but now he has all his flight feathers.

 

It is difficult at times, but he does love to fly so… flighted he shall remain!

 

Hi Cherie,

Sennies are slow deliberate flyers averaging 6 – 7 miles an hour as opposed to cockatiels who can achieve 30 miles an hour in your living room.

 

Their head and beak are little larger for birds their size so they tend to land clumsily (top heavy) for a while until they figure out the landing zones that they are most comfortable with.

 

Sounds like the two of you will get it all worked out.

Best

MitchR

 

Just wanted to say my 19-month-old female green cheek conure is fully flighted since her initial clip from the breeder. 

 

I will never clip her again. She is way too happy

 

Happy bird, happy human.

​Best

​MitchR

 

Jane Shevey

The question posed was whether our birds are clipped or flighted? 

 

We have two aging male tiels, a male Congo African Grey, and Female Medium Sulfer-Crested Too…we used to keep them all clipped, but changed that up many years ago.

All are fully flighted, strong and healthy! 

 

4 cockatoo landing composite blog header 1 Flighted Or Clipped Wings   Our Readers Weigh In

 

Most are rescues, and even our veterinarian/friend had changed the mindset that birds should be clipped…. better muscular structure and happier birds!!

 

No surprises here Jane – just be careful your home doesn’t morph into a Disney movie

Best

MitchR

 

Linda Norway

Both of our birds are unclipped.

 

One is a rescue 60+ Double Yellow Headed abused Amazon who has cataracts.

 

He spends a lot of time out of the cage by the pool or in my hubby’s man cave.

 

Very much a one person bird.

 

Since he can’t see, flying would be dangerous, and the vet says he’s too old for anesthesia risks.

 

The other is an ‘insane’ 10-year-old acrobat White Bellied Caique.

 

She has free flight throughout the house IF the ceiling fans are off and we aren’t cooking.

 

She is a lot of fun, but nippy when molting.

 

She and the cat play games to see who can get closer to me. Jealousy!!!

 

 

I don’t believe in clipping their wings. I would love to give them as much of their natural habitat back since their real world is disappearing.

Linda Norway

 

Sounds a like a fun household, Linda.

 

Love the man-cave thing

Best,

MitchR

 

Chuck Olds

Just replying to question about wings clipped or not.

 

My 16-year-old male cinnamon green cheek conure is fully flighted since I’m retired and he lives on my shoulder all the time that I’m awake and at home.

 

He sticks to me like velcro.

 

Sounds like a wonderful relationship, Chuck

Best

MitchR

 

Debra Richard

Hi Mitch and Catherine,

I have a Max. (Maximilian Pionus aka scaly headed parrot) Pionus, a Green Cheek (conure) and a Violet Indian Ringneck and all my birds are flighted.

 

Pionus maximiliani  pet 4a Flighted Or Clipped Wings   Our Readers Weigh InMaximillian Pionus

I believe birds should be able to have the ability to flee from any potential danger, even if they should fall from a perch. I’ve had birds in my life from the time I was a tiny girl and enjoy their beauty, antics, and intelligence every day.

Thank you,

Debbie

 

So do we Debbie:-)

Best

MitchR

Hal Pfingsten

All four of our birds (Harlequin Macaw, Lesser Sulpher-crested Cockatoo, and two Cockatiels) are flighted. 

 

 

The Cockatiels love to swoop around the house for a bit but soon return to their cage. 

 

Barney, the Macaw doesn’t bother to fly, he just struts around lording it over the smaller birds in their cages. 

 

The Cockatoo, Simon, won’t fly either but goes exploring on foot, looking under the furniture, pillows, blankets, etc. 

 

Both he and Barney return to their cages on their own after what they consider is a reasonable time. 

 

By the way, we got Barney as a chick; he is now 17 years old. 

 

Simon was a rescue, and is now 46 years old, and still as active as a teenager. 

 

The Cockatiels are 12 and 18 years.

 

Greetings Hal,

 

Simon’s actions appear that “he: is looking for a place to make babies, FYI.

 

The Alpha male is apparent from the Greenwing side of Barney’s parents.

 

 

Cockatiels are some of the best fliers attaining speed indoors, of up to 30 MPH.

 

Sounds like a fun flock.

Best of luck.

MitchR

 

My cockatiels are flighted.

I do NOT believe in clipping wings.

 

Who would chop off their babies’ feet because they run around so much and can get in trouble when they start walking??

Thank you for vocalizing that Cyn

Best

MitchR

 

BJ Perez

Both my sun conures are flighted

 

Bravo BJ!

Best

MitchR

 

Stuart Dole

Neither! 

 

Our elderly (39 yer old) military macaw is not clipped, but he’s of the firm belief that flying, like in the air by flapping, is strictly for the birds.

 

That said, his main human, my wife Anne, who has been his companion for 31 years, “flies” him daily.

 

She gets him on her arm and gives the “Wings Up!” command, and gets him to flap for a while, but he holds on firmly.

 

This is to exercise his pecs and wing joints – it seems he has arthritis in several of the wing joints and would rather not – but use it or lose it.

 

When he was young he was clipped, so he never really got the hang of flying – he decided it just didn’t work. 

 

About a decade ago, when I was first married to Anne, we tried to teach him to fly.

 

In the biggest room of the house, he could maintain level flight but didn’t figure out turning or landing. 

 

We’d retrieve him from a (gentle) crash into a corner behind the bookcase, excited, and covered with cobwebs. 

 

After a few weeks of that, we all decided not to push it.

 

Happy trails…

 

Sounds like a great relationship Anne has with your military macaw Stuart.

 

It’s also clear he never fledged

 

For the record, we don’t need to teach birds how to fly, they get that.

We start by teaching them how to land.

 

The first lesson for a bird the size of yours is to launch it from your hand to the landing zone starting at one foot away.

 

Just a “hop”.

 

That gives your bird time to “lift his wings while learning what the angle for his ankle to be at “perch contact”.

 

As he lowers his body onto the perch, his ankles” come down” forcing his feet to clamp onto the perch.

 

Learn more about this exquisite pulley system works – How do birds sleep standing on one leg?

 

Increase the distance daily between hand and zone.

 

In no time you’ll have a flighted bird.

Best of luck

MitchR

 

Karen Bradway

Yellow-napped Amazon clipped

 

Interestingly, there are a lot of Amazon companions out there.

 

Thank you for the feedback Karen

Best

Mitch

My first bird was a cockatiel.

Her wings were clipped when I bought her and it was recommended that they be kept so.

The last two years of her life I was living with my parents who had a bird dog.

The dog had been taught to leave the bird alone.

I stopped clipping her wings but she seemed content to stay on my shoulders until one day when I was outside with her. The dog came bounding up and scared her.

She flew up into the tall pine trees where i could hear her calling for me but I never saw her again.

She did not know how to come back.

It still hurts to think about it.

My present bird, a Senegal Parrot, has his wings clipped.

The seller who hand raised him made me promise to keep them clipped.

I run him across the garage (the biggest enclose space we have access to.

If we try it outside he will let go and have an awkward landing.) where he keeps a grip on my finger (Ouch!) and flaps his wings.

This is repeated until he is out of breath but not too much so.

Sometimes I use this opportunity to clip his wings.

He is too busy catching it to be bothered by an otherwise distressing ordeal.

 

 Aggregated and annotated  by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Author:

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.