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Clipping Wings

We have been clipping birds and grooming them and other animals for over 30 years and here are our recommendations on wing clipping.

After seeing birds wings chopped and scissored or should I say hacked that is so unattractive we came up with a better way 27 plus years ago. We never just clip one wing as that really puts a bird off balance and asks for injury. Nor do we do the so called show clip that leaves the first two flight feathers sticking out that can also cause injury if the bird flaps and looses balance on the corner of a table or other object hitting these (p 10 and p 9) outer feathers.

We find it is best to cut p 10 through p 4 of the primaries (illustrations below on this page), which is the first seven and works well for most birds with the exception on occasion of a really strong flyer in which we then cut one more primary (p 3) for this is usually all that is necessary. The goal is to stop the bird from flying up and gaining height into a ceiling fan and such. This clip will still allow your bird to glide down to the floor several feet descending down but not gaining height and not just toppling over and taking a direct hit on a floor with to many feathers clipped that most often ends with the bird landing hard on his/her breast bone that can be quite sever. 

Things to have for wing clipping preparation inadvance:

Towel

Kwik Stop

Cat Claw Scissors

Second Person For Possible Needed Assistance

The Towel

We put the bird in a towel and find if the holder of the bird is more relaxed while this is going on then the bird is not nearly as liable to struggle and be scared as they do feel a quickened pulse of fear from you if you are nervous while clipping them. Many of ours don't even need to be toweled to get clipped but they are used to it and trust they will not be hurt.

Playing with your bird if it is a tame bird with a towel lets the bird learn that towels are not scary, talking calmly and softly with soothing words can be quite comforting to your bird through the whole process.

In the case of clipping a bird that you may feel will resent you after wing clipping he/she can easily have his/her head covered with part of your towel while clipping. So make sure the towel is large enough and one you won't mind them chewing if they decide too.

We kind of roll the bird up in the towel and then gently find and stretch out the wing, first gently pulling back the greater under wing-converts to expose and examine for possible blood feathers.

On a white or light colored bird the upper shaft will be pink if it is a blood feather and on a darker colored bird it will resemble a blue black ink pen cartridge, which means it should not be cut near the shaft that is pink or dark blue black but go much further out and leave the feather before and after any blood feather a little longer to support the existing blood feather until it has completely developed into a feather you can come back and clip shorter at a later day.

                                   Kwik Stop

Kwik Stop is a styptic powder with benzocaine (for pain) for stopping bleeding in case you find a feather that may be bleeding or one you may have clipped to close which if careful will not happen but it is always good to have Kwik Stop readily available if needed, rather than looking all over for it while a bird is bleeding. As a blood feather is like a straw when bleeding and the blood will really flow from a blood feather if cut which can be life threatening for your bird as they really don't have a lot of blood to begin with.

                                   Cat Claw Scissors

Cat Claw Scissors are what we use to clip a birds wings and we like the fact that you can get them around a feather shaft or further down in the case of a blood feather and do one feather at a time so to further eliminate the possibility of accidently clipping a blood feather...that can really harm a bird and cause severe bleeding, so know what a blood feather is before starting.

Second Person For Possible Needed Assistance

Second Person For Possible Needed Assistance is always wise if you are not use to clipping wings by yourself and they can hand you things if needed and or help hold your bird secularly but not in a tight suffocating manner.

Wing Viewed From Underside

Here is an example of a bird wing with an out stretched wing showing the under side of a fully flighted wing with all feathers viewable and numbered so you can see exactly what will be cut...in the way of feathers.

Wing Viewed From Underside

Here is an example of the same wing with the first seven primary feathers clipped (p 10 - p 4). The old sometimes called "cosmetic clip" where you leave two outer feathers can really injure a bird if they hit them against something...like say a coffee table with wings open and those two feathers sticking out.

Wing Viewed From Backside

Here is an example of a bird wing with an out stretched wing showing the back side of a fully flighted wing with all feathers viewable.

Wing Viewed From Backside

And here is an example of the same wing with the first seven primary feathers clipped (p10 - p4). It is best to clip your bird from the under side because this gives a much better view of each feather and you can put him/her in your lap upside down...talk to him/her gently and be  reassuring and calmly. This always helps mine to relax :)

Here is the underside of a blue and gold macaw's winggold macaw's wing clipped and not clipped in these pictures shown.












Here is the underside of a blue and gold macaw's wing clipped and not clipped in these pictures shown.
 

hen the wings are in the closed position you will not find chopped or hacked feathers with this clip and it is quite an attractive alternative to wing clippingg that are just scissored a crossed from the back side...or worst just hacked!

Oten I am asked if my bird is clipped at all. because people are so used to seeing hacked feathers...with scissor cuts a crossed them.

ny years ago I had a bird flap and the cut shaft of a feather scratch mydy eye lens so this is the wing clip we came up with 27 plus years ago that because the primary-coverts are not clipped nor the lessor under wing coverts they actually cover the cut feather shafts on the underside as well as the backside preventing this and making it more comfortable for the bird as well.my eye lens so this is the wing clip we came up with 27 plus years ago that because the primary-coverts are not clipped nor the lessor under wing coverts they actually cover the cut feather shafts on the underside as well as the backside preventing this and making it more comfortable for the bird as well.

Here below we view the baby blue and gold macaw again showing both the upper top (left) and lower underside (right) of a clipped wing.
Here below is the baby blue and gold macaw with the wings closed...a very nice and attractive way to clip your birds wings...that is safer than most.
Please note that if you have never seen a wing clipped and don't feel comfortable doing so than we advise you to let a professional do it so not to harm your bird.
 

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