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Posted on 06-03-2015

While some avian owners believe that birds should be allowed free flight, many more are becoming aware of the dangers associated with domestic birds having the capability to fly. Free flight can result in head, spinal cord and central nervous system trauma from crashing into walls, mirrors and windows. 

Wing trims for our feathered friends are not meant to render them completely flightless. The purpose of the procedure is to decrease and/or prevent the bird from achieving upward lift in their flight. Birds with improperly trimmed wings may flop to the ground resulting in injury or maintain the ability to gain lift in their flight attempts. Wing trims should be preformed by an avian veterinarian or other experienced aviary professional, in order to avoid injury to the bird during the procedure. The stress of the bird being handled can often be reduced by a professional with knowledge of proper restraint techniques, resulting in less frequent injury to the bird and or the handler. Primary flight feathers are the only feathers that need trimmed in order to prevent upward lift during flight. The weight of the bird must be taken into consideration during this procedure so as to not remove too many feathers which could result in the bird lacking the ability to safely glide to the ground, Typically a more conservative approach is used when trimming the wings in order to prevent trimming of too many flying feathers. Heavier birds, such as Amazons, often require fewer feathers to be trimmed than smaller birds, such as, Cockatiels. Wings should be carefully examined prior to trimming to ensure that blood feathers are not present as trimming one of these feathers may further complicate the procedure and endanger the health and well-being of the bird. Blood feathers should be removed and NOT clipped. Many veterinarians recommend wing trimming occur starting with the primary feather furthest from the body and should be done in a symmetrical fashion on both wings in order to allow the bird to maintain balance. There is no set amount of time which wing trims will need to reoccur, therefore owners must take an active part in monitoring their bird's flight ability in order to determine when the next wing trim may be necessary. Please ask Animal Central for more information on avian wing trims.

Thank you,

Dr. George Stroberg and the Animal Central Staff

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