Clipping a Bird’s Wings

clipping bird wings
Written by Arlene S. Lane

Clipping bird wings is something every pet bird owner should have knowledge about. Don’t worry about this because this is purely for their safety purpose. The clipped bird wings will help your birds to stay secure while trying to fly indoors. As a pet bird owner, you will want to make sure that your birds look good, and stay healthy and safe.

You want to see your bird fly and this can be a great feeling to see your birds flying actively. Even though birds are more indoor oriented pets, they should stay indoors for some obvious safety reasons. However, their flying habits can be dangerous if it continues indoors. This is why clipping bird wings is something that every pet bird owner should know about.

Indoor Dangers For Flying Birds

Though birds stay safe indoors if they start to fly then they may suffer from some serious problems. They may get injured by flying into the wall, mirrors, windows, and ceiling fans and they may get injured and even kill themselves.

Other risks include drowning in the sink, toilet, and other water standing around. They may land on a hot stove. If the window is open then they may fly outside and get lost. If you have exotic pet birds then you know what you are losing. This is where clipping bird wings is important to keep their safety intact. It won’t be wrong to say that clipped bird wings contribute to bird’s safety a lot.

What You Should Know Before Trimming Wings?

When you are planning to trim down the wings of your pet birds then you shouldn’t just hold them and trim the wings like it’s nothing because wrongly trimmed and clipped wings can cause some serious health and safety issues. This is why it is recommended to talk to a professional vet first before doing it.

If you want to start wing clipping parrots or other pet birds then get to know about tips and tricks from professionals. A minor mistake can result in some serious injury to your pet bird. You may clip the wrong wing at the same time while holding your pet. You should learn about safety and precautionary measures to make sure that your pet bird will stay secure.

Guide For Clipping And Trimming Wings

Either a cockatoo wing or a parrot wing, you will need to make sure that you are going to trim the wings in the right way. Here is what you need to know. 

Choose the Right Place to Do the Wing Clipping

When you are trimming cockatiel wings or clipping your pet’s feathers you will need to make sure that you can have a clear look on what you are doing. You will need to make your pet calm before the procedure to select a rather quiet room for this purpose. Also, your selected room should have good lighting as well.

After all, you will want to make sure that you can clearly see the wings before clipping them. This is one of the most important factors for the safety and comfort of your pet. When you are about to wing clipping parrots and any other pet birds then make sure you have closed the windows and doors so they wouldn’t fly. There is a huge probability that your bird will fly away while you are redying it for the clipping procedure.

Avoid Blood Feathers

Not all the feathers are the same. while thinking about a safe clipped bird wings procedure, you should also learn about feather types. As you may have already known, trimming or clipping too many wings is bad but at the same time, you should take care of the blood feathers as well. If they are cut then it will cause bleeding because they are still growing. Before trimming or clipping the cockatoo wing check the shaft first to make sure you aren’t touching the blood feather.

You should check the base of the feather where it is developing and be nourished by the blood that has a dark blue color. The smaller feathers, such as around the head, will have a pink or red base. The pin feathers are sensitive by nature so birds may not enjoy picking them. If you accidentally clipped the blood feather then it is better to pluck it to stop the blood loss. If you don’t know about it then call your vet immediately.

Gather The Supplies For The Procedure

It is one of the most important parts of clipping parrot wings. You should gather all the supplies before starting the clipping procedure. This procedure can be stressful for your pet and as a loving pet owner, you don’t want to make the procedure even more stressful. This is why you should gather the supplies first for a better experience. To clip the wings you should have:

  • Small scissors
  • A plain and thick white towel
  • Get help from the vet before starting the procedure.

Clipping Bird Wings

Before starting the trimming, you should fan out the wings and take a look at them wings. There will be shorter and longer feathers. The longer feathers are known as the primary or flight feathers. These wings should be trimmed. For a better experience, you should cut the flight feathers equal to the shorter feathers. You can also try other ways of trimming wings.

Some owners may avoid the first two flight feathers and clip the rest. To start, you should trim your first wing and see if your bird can fly safely. Some owners will trim a couple of feathers. And the bird will fly from room to room. If you are trimming the large cockatoo wing then you should cut fewer feathers on them than the lighter birds.

Learn about the Essential Feathers Used by the Birds to Fly

If you are trimming the wings of your pet birds then you should check the feather types first before clipping. Make sure to clip only the main feathers that these birds will use to fly. You should spread the bird’s wing and check the wing types first and look for the primary feathers. When it comes to cockatiel wings clipped or trimmed, you will not want to hurt it all.

Your birds will have two types of feathers and don’t cut the smaller feathers that will overleap the larger feathers. These feathers are flying feathers and they are larger than the small feathers under. Just cut short the large feathers to equal the shorter ones and don’t over-trim them.

Does Trimming Wings Hurt?

Some pet bird owners will not want the procedure of trimming wings because they believe it will hurt the bird, while some will not like their babies like cockatiel wings clipped for aesthetic reasons. However, if the procedure was correct then it will not hurt the bird at all. It is just like how you cut your hair or clip your fingernail. What is more important is not to over-trim the wings.

Once you have done clipping such as clipping parrot wings then you can see how swiftly your birds can glide to the floor when they try to fly. This also means they can still fly but not too high. If you over-trim your pet bird’s wings then they will fall immediately and they may fall from heights while trying to fly.


Trimming the wings of your pet bird is one of the important parts of the safety of your bird. All you need is to consult with a professional vet first for experienced opinions, tips, and guidance. Make sure not to over-trim it and don’t cut the blood feathers. Follow our bird care blog for more tips and guides.

About the author

Arlene S. Lane

Arlene S. Lane is a veterinary technician and hospital manager with over 12 years of experience. Arlene has been contributed expert content to The Pet's Rise for over 10 years.
Arlene has worked in veterinary medicine since 2017. Arlene's veterinary experience ranges from routine wellness care and preventive medicine to emergency and specialty care, where she has performed duties ranging from specialized nursing to clinical administration.

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