Does Clipping Wings Hurt Bird?

Wings clipping of pet birds — a daunting task and quite a complex, controversial topic amongst avian cultures since the time birds have been domesticated.

Due to many pros and cons of wing clipping, it has been a complex controversy with no end in sight.

Still, an easy and comprehensive understanding of feather structure and mechanism can lead you to decide better whether or not to get your birds’ wings clipped.

If you decide to get your birds’ wings trimmed, make sure to choose no less than the best professional avian veterinarian or reliable bird store employees or breeders to get the procedure done.

If you decide to do it yourself at home, ensure that you have somebody to help you hamper the bird and that you are confident enough to perform the procedure safely.

Wings Structure

Due to estrangement from new family members/new house or even accidentally new pet, birds may fly away through an open window.

That’s why sometimes it is necessary to trim their flight feathers to prevent them from flying away.

The final decision is best left to you.

Before exploring the questions and getting into the debate of whether wings clipping is harmful or harmless, it is crucial to understand the basic structure of wings.

Talking concisely — A wing has four major parts. 

  1. Starting from the calamus, which attaches the feather to the bird’s body. 
  2. Then comes the slender mid part of the feather (named Rachis) holding the veins. 
  3. Equally wide plumed parts are called vanes. 
  4. Finally, the barbules comprise soft and barbes ending on tiny hooked barbicels.

The outermost tips of the wings, known as primary or flight feathers, play the most significant role in balanced flying and gliding.

These primary feathers work as wings as well as propellers for the birds.

Three to five primary feathers are clipped for various reasons when birds are domesticated in a new household.

Pretty interesting how wings are designed

So is it cruel to clib a birds wings?

Is It Cruel To Clip a Bird’s Wings?

Some folks see it as cruelty and contend clipping the bird’s wings is unnecessary and unkind, while others may think differently.

As mentioned earlier — this topic is controversial and inconclusive; the final decision is yours.

However, we will discuss the pros and cons of wing clipping from different aspects.

On one hand, it is harmless, and on the other hand, it can be risky too.

Do Birds feel pain in their feathers?

If you have decided to get your bird’s feathers trimmed, never try it yourself if it’s your first time.

Choose the best avian vet, grooming professionals, avian store employees or breeders to get the procedure done painlessly.

Gentle clipping of the primary flight feathers carefully, avoiding the middle Rachis (containing veins) and assisted restraining the birds won’t harm at all.

But remember, Falling into the wrong hands can cause severe injury or heavy bleeding to your bird.

What Happens If You Cut Your Bird’s Wings?

Pros of wing clipping.

Primarily, a wing clipping procedure saves the birds from flying away from the household.

There is nothing wrong with a mild wing trim for several reasons.

  • Painless — It is considered harmless since the outermost tips of only three to five flight feathers are clipped. It doesn’t hurt the blood veins inside the Rachis, and there’s no chance of bleeding or pain if your bird is in the good hands of an expert.
  • Safety — Pet birds are habitual to companionship and love only. They cannot deal with any dangerous predators outside. Wing clipping prevents them from taking high flights, reducing the chances to escape, which ensures the utmost safety indoors.
  • Indoor accidents — Indoor life also has some dangers for the new birds. Wing trimming can prevent them from striking ceiling fans, windows, toilets or other similar hazards they do not experience in their wildlife.
  • Taming — Wing trimming can be inordinately helpful in the initial training and taming process. 
  • Relationship — The bird is forced to depend on its owner, which enhances the bond of love and trust between the two.
  • Constantly moulting — Since birds fall their feathers yearly and new feathers are moulting continuously, there’s no harm in wing clipping for safety reasons. Soon the new feathers will grow and merge into the clipped ones.

Cons of wing clipping.

Since wing clipping is beneficial for some reasons, we cannot deny the darker side of the picture.

Depriving the bird of its natural flight instinct has diverse physical and psychological effects on the birds.

  • Not a DIY task — Never try to do it at home unless you’re 100% confident doing the trim perfectly or have someone with you to assist through the process.
  • Wrong clipping — Wing clipping can cause serious injury to the bird if it falls into the wrong hands.
  • Accidents — Trimmed birds can get indirect injuries through falls and accidents.
  • Self-defence — Being unable to fly, they can’t escape from approaching predators or dangerous pets like cats and dogs.
  • Bleeding — Excessive trimming can result in heavy bleeding.
  • Distress — can cause severe psychological damage to the bird by pushing it into a state of despair. The bird may give up chirping or eating properly for several days.
  • Deprivation — Being clipped, birds are deprived of their instinct which is their only mode of travel, physical exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Infrequent fliers — If the wings are clipped at a very young age, birds may not learn to fly and will never be capable even after their wings grow.
  • Disbalance — If wings are not cut in equal amounts and lengths on both sides, it may cause an unbalanced flight, and the chances of falling will increase.
  • Inactivity — Since birds are playful and love exploring new things, now they are dependent on you. Make sure to provide them with enough toys and your time, so they don’t get bored.

Can a Bird With Clipped Wings Ever Fly Again?

Cutting the wings of an adult bird may not be as harmful as for the young ones.


Because baby birds need to learn to fly, and if you cut their wings at a very young age, they will not be able to fly ever again, even after growing new wings.

They will become used to a life without flight which I guess is not right for any bird

However, adult birds will still be able to take low flights with clipped wings.

And they will be able to fly after their wings grow and merge with the clipped ones. 

One more con that poses the infrequent fliers is the increasing weight.

Flying is their natural mussel exercise for muscle development.

Flightless birds gain weight which becomes a hindrance to their flight later on.

Gaining weight can also cause obesity which can lead to health complications

Should Pet Birds Have Their Wings Clipped?

Finally, here comes the decision point.

As described earlier, the final decision is best left to you whether or not to get your bird trimmed.

It entirely depends upon your concerns, preferences, the environment in which the bird is going to live, and the time and attention you can give to your bird. 

If you already have cats or dogs in your household, leaving trimmed birds playing out of the cage around pets that can harm your bird is not recommended as they cannot fly to escape.

Flying birds can save themselves from predators, but if they fly out of the window, they can be gone forever

There is no guarantee they can fly away from bird predators such as hawks, eagles and owls

That is why it’s important to supervise your birds when they are out of the cage or the best thing you can do is make sure there is no escape route


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