The process of clipping a bird’s wings at home is a very touchy procedure which calls for a lot of care and gentleness. It is stressful for both the pet and the owner. While a bird is hard to control in this situation, the owner has to fully concentrate on not hurting it. Some people take a rather hateful stand toward this and claim clipping is one of the cruelest things you can do to your bird. On the other side, vets and birds specialists state that this is sometimes imperative for bird’s safety.
Firstly think about whether your bird really needs clipping!
Although it may seem painful to do this, trimming your bird’s feathers is necessary for several situations. Training your bird to stand-up on your hand or come out of a cage is surely not the time when you need your bird flying around as this will significantly slow down the process. Some people choose to do this so as to prevent the bird from sliding through the house too much and leaving its coat all over the place.
Finally, if your home is full of dangers for your bird such as open windows, doors, mirrors and ceiling fans, clipping your bird’s wings may be your best bet. On the other hand, there are some occasions when you shouldn’t do this. If your pet is overweight, for example, flying will make a good exercise for it to lose weight and get healthier.
Other pets in the house such as dogs and cats may harm the bird so, obviously, it will need its wings to escape. Independence is also something your bird appreciates a lot. It loves being able to move from place to place on its own and explore the environment which is why you should better close the windows and doors while it’s investigating the house.
Preparation for the trimming
When you’re clipping your bird’s wings for the first time, it is the best to have a professional do it. He/She will explain you the whole process, what to pay attention to and all the do’s and don’ts. When you decide to do it on your own the next time, try to find the right environment. It has to be a place with a lot of light so you see well what you’re doing.
Also, try to provide a calm atmosphere for the bird as this procedure naturally puts it under a lot of pressure and distress. After deciding on the location, gather all the necessary supplies such as sharp scissors and a thick towel. You’re also advised to ask a friend to give you a hand in this.
The bird will probably resist trimming so you’ll have to use the towel to restrain it but remember not to press its chest as these animals don’t have diaphragms. The bird might get combative so make sure that your helper (if you have one) holds the head between the thumb and forefinger with one hand while holding the body with the other.
Look for the right feathers to clip!
Birds have 2 main types of feathers: primaries and secondaries. The 10 primary feathers are the ones responsible for flying which is why some people choose to cut them in order to impair it. To be more precise, the 5 outermost primary feathers should be cut below the level of primary covert feathers. Avoid trimming the secondary feathers as the sharp edges that are left after this could irritate the bird.
What you should not do at any cost is cutting the blood feathers. These are the ones that are still young and not fully matured. They still do have blood in them and are heavily attached to the nervous system which means their trimming could cause life-threatening bleeding.
Beginning the clipping
Once a bird realizes it’s going to be groomed, it will probably try to fight and hurt either you or the person helping you. Therefore, the one who is going to be holding the bird has to grab it quickly in the towel and turn it to the back while trying not to impair its breathing at the same time. The purpose of the towel is to protect the helper’s hands from the bird’s raging beak. Once it is on its back you can take one of its wings and spread it gently. Again, look only for the flight feathers which are the first line of long feathers you’ll see on the underside.
Once it is on its back you can take one of its wings and spread it gently. Again, look only for the flight feathers which are the first line of long feathers you’ll see on the underside.
You need to give this your full attention. Once you constrain the bird and find the primary feathers, proceed to cut them. Trim them one by one from the tip of the feather toward the body. Cutting all of them at once might be too stressful for the bird and you might end up doing shabby work as you didn’t devote yourself to each feather respectively. Remember, in this procedure speed is not really your ally!
The secondary and blood feathers should stay intact. Some owners choose to leave only 2 flight feathers for aesthetic reasons which you can definitely do. However, be aware of the fact that clipping only 5 is enough. The fewer primary feathers you leave doesn’t necessarily mean longer time without flying for your bird!
In case you injure the blood feather
This is potentially lethal for your bird but, don’t panic! Gather all your inner calmness, take pliers and gently remove the feather. Meanwhile, the person helping you should press the wing on both sides and put some styptic powder over the follicle the feather was pulled out from. The bleeding should stop quite soon after you have applied direct pressure to the wound but if this doesn’t happen, take the bird to the vet.
Bird’s wings need an equal number of feathers trimmed. If you do not pay attention to this, your bird might have problems with landing but also flying afterward. An additional thing that has to be stressed when it comes to landing, you want to clip enough feathers so your bird doesn’t fall like a rock to the floor if it accidentally falls. After the procedure, it should also be able to glide through space easily without taking off into the air. These reasons should be enough to warn you of the importance of the number of feathers being equally balanced out.
Birds usually need trimming once a month but it still depends on a lot of the species. Therefore, once the wings seem to be of the same length as before you’ll have to clip them. The way you can help your bird feel better and better about each trimming is to give it a lot of praise and treats. That’s how it will feel secure and will know that its wings are in the right hands. Remember that if you’re not sure how to clip a bird’s wings at home, seek vet’s advice because this is not something that can be done by someone who doesn’t know the ropes of the procedure