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How to Trim Your Bird's Wings

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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For some birds, trimming their wings helps in handling them as well as preventing them from escaping. However, wing trimming should only be done on psittacine or parrot-type birds.

Before You Begin

Before grabbing your bird and starting to trim, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Have a towel, sharp scissors and a tweezers or thin needle-nosed pliers. If this is your and your bird's first trim, you may want to have someone help you.

Now For the Bird

Gently grab your bird and wrap him in the towel. Since birds don't willingly hold out their wings to let your trim them, make sure you are able to get to a wing and keep the rest of the body snugly in a towel in case the bird fights. Gently extend the wing. The primary feathers are the long feathers. There is another layer of shorter feathers called primary coverts. For cosmetic reasons, leave the first 2-3 primary feathers alone. (The ones furthest from the body of the bird). Trim the next 5-6 feathers to just below the level of the primary coverts and inline with the coverts.

Be very careful to avoid trimming any blood feathers. These are immature feathers that still have a blood supply to the shaft. You can spot them by the dark-colored shaft, as opposed to the white or clear shaft of a mature feather. If any of these feathers are trimmed, significant bleeding can occur and the feather needs to be removed with a tweezers.

After you are finished with one wing, repeat the procedure on the other wing. Make sure you offer plenty of treats and praise. After trimming, monitor the feather growth. Each bird is different and there is no set time to re-trim.

After trimming, your bird should slowly glide to the floor and not fall straight to the ground. Trim both wings. If only one wing is trimmed, the bird will have poor balance and may come crashing to the ground, resulting in serious trauma.



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