Life with Fully Flighted Parrots

One thing I’ll never do is clip my birds’ wings. I’m pretty fortunate that my flat has a little entrance vestibule leading into the foyer – which means I can seal that off and have the birds out and about, without fear of one escaping accidentally. They have to be supervised constantly, mind you, and I still worry about open windows. But I think it’s worth it.

One of my favourite things is watching the birds fly. I know it makes them happy, too, and more secure because they feel they can remove themselves from the situation. Generally, they’re very confident about being out with us (Mishka excluded), and if startled, they always come back. Ptak will even fly to us if he is afraid of something. Parrots often treasure your company over everything else in the room. Well, okay, unless there’s millet. (Even then, it tastes better when eaten from a finger or shoulder.)

My birds get into things that I don’t want them to, sometimes, but mostly the house is bird-proofed, and when they find something off-limits, it’s my fault. I have taught them to burn off energy through flight, reducing the likelihood of a bite and ensuring a happier, healthier pet!

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Highly scientific evidence.

It makes me a bit sad to think that somewhere, there are birds who rely on their humans for literally everything, even transportation. I feel that I should mention, too – some birds become depressed when clipped, especially if you do if after they’ve tasted the joy of flight.

If you do want a flighted bird, you will have to teach it some basic skills to ensure its safety. Leaving a parrot fully flighted does come with its risks – but so does clipping. If you teach your bird how to recall to you with accuracy, how to ascend and descend in case of an escape, and how to stay in one place (station), your bird will be safer. You may also literally have to teach it to fly, which will involve showing it how to hop on the same level from one closely-placed perch to another, and from there increasing the distance until the bird has to flap its wings. Go slowly, and know that there will be a crash at least one time. If your bird does make a mistake like that, unless there is immediate danger, don’t rush in. Let the bird extract itself if possible and learn what to do.

If you’re still not convinced, here are the pros and cons of clipping your parrot, where I debate in greater detail if it’s worth it.

What are your thoughts on clipping a parrot’s wings?

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Charlie about to take flight.

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3 thoughts on “Life with Fully Flighted Parrots

  1. I clip my cockatiel’s wings during breeding season when his hormones tend to go full steam ahead. If I don’t clip, he usually removes himself from all social interaction in favor of the curtain rod, and we can’t get him down for the life of us (he gets all high-and-mighty once he’s up there and will bite lightly if we try to remove him). By clipping his wings we “knock him down a peg” during a time when his hormones are telling him to try to boss us around. I love my bird, and he’s amazing; he just needs to understand that I will never harm him in any way, but I am still in charge and he does NOT have permission to bite the hand that feeds him. He becomes better-mannered this way and I can share his wonderful personality with family members, friends who come to visit, and his avian vet. After breeding season is over, however, I let his feathers grow out so he can have the excellent form of exercise, flight, available to him. (I actually think he prefers scavenging around on the floor though!)

    • Sounds a lot like our Mishka! I think if I clipped her, though, she’d have an actual meltdown. One of the foundations of our truce is that she can fly away whenever she wants. We have a system worked out for the curtain rail issue, too: we call and offer millet, and if that fails, we get out the dreaded ‘Stick.’ It’s only a thin bamboo rod, but just showing it to her normally convinces her to come down. Thanks for writing!

  2. I regularly capture wild birds that have been injured by humans. I also have been asked by people to come and rescue their parrots from trees a few times. Maybe they haven’t been trained well enough but I have had mixed results with coaxing them to return. Sometimes food or the sight of their cage works. Sometimes the sight of another pet bird will bring them down. I have an umbrella cockatoo and I keep him clipped. It’s too easy for him to disappear and too hard for me to find him before the dogs, cats, coyotes or hawks do. Macaws are no match for them either.

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