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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Wing clipping is a very personal decision so this is only a guide to help those that have already decided they would like to clip.
There are some other options if you are not comfortable with doing this yourself but in the long run it'll save a lot of time and money. It's quite easy once you are use to it and you understand what you are doing. If after reading up on clipping, you are still not comfortable with your tiel and scissors then you can pay a vet to do it, visit a local pet shop or a breeder.

Here are some of the most popular reasons of why people decide to clip their tiels:

SAFETY: A lot of tiels are simply clumsy. There are a lot of hidden dangers in house designed for humans. Bumping into glass doors, mirrors, walls, getting stuck behind furniture, falling into aquariums, landing on a hot oven, chewing electric cords...the list is endless. Clipping your tiel won't stop their clumsy nature but it can prevent some accidents.
Another big part of safety is accidentally flying out the door. It can happen and has. It's very hard on the owner never knowing what happen to their tiel and the world is a big dark place. Tiels that have been use to humans feeding them and caring for them have little or no instinct left on how to fend for themselves. There are also other dangers such as becoming hawk food.:(

TAMING: Some people choose to clip for taming purposes. A tiel that is clipped is a lot more dependent on you and that need can transform a wild tiel into a calm loving pet. Not all the time, but it can.

DAMAGE CONTROL: Well, this speaks for itself. Clipping can help eliminate some of the damage a flying tiel can do at times. Some are more mischievous then others. Flying and breaking something by accident, chewing up that wooden ledge, blinds, and this list is endless too.

Now, I'd to talk about first aid. Although it doesn't happen often when done properly, some bleeding can occur. The only time this will happen is when too much of the wing is clipped and you cut into a blood feather. I will explain this further a little later. If bleeding does happen the most important is to stay calm, have the right supplies on hand and all will be ok.

The things that you will need to have:

YOUR TIEL- without your tiel it'll be impossible ;)

A SHARP PAIR OF SCISSORS (or a pair of nail clippers if you're nervous) - I use large kitchen scissors

FLOUR OR CORNSTARTCH- this is incase of bleeding- applying the starch helps clog blood a lot faster then normal and helps to prevent blood loss-blood loss is very dangerous as it causes the bird's temperature to drop. Either flour or cornstarch is fine and you can keep it in an airtight container to have ready just in case-you don't want to have to dip your tiel into your cake flour ;) At this point you'll want to take a break and let your tiel calm down to help lower their blood pressure. Bleeding should stop right away but if for any reason it does not please call your emergency vet.

Now as far as how to hold your tiel...well gently- depending on how tame and use to this your tiel is you can either use a towel and take one wing out at a time or just a flat surface, extending one wing out at a time. This is where you have to know your tiel and find the option that works best for you. After a while they become very use to it and don't get scared at all. At first it may help to cover your tiel's eyes with the towel- birds use the what they can't see, can't hurt them theory and will calm down a lot more if it's dark.

SO now that that is covered you are ready to clip. Here is a diagram of the wing.

Now take a look at this diagram. Notice in the second picture where the cutting stopped.

Make sure you never cut above that- better take a little at a time then too much. Cut along the primary flights and not in a straight line. You want to clip enough where you're tiel can still glide safely to the ground but not gain flight. When clipping these flight feathers, be careful not to clip any growing feathers. You will recognize these blood feathers from the others since you can see the dark blood area in the shaft. Also, if your tiel is molting keep in mind that all it takes is one primary feather on each wing to fly. You can choose to clip all flight feathers or leave a couple of the outer ones so your tiel can still fly, just not as high or as fast. When molting, you can either wait until your tiel is molted or do multiple clips as the feathers grow out. Either way, once you and your tiel are use to it, it'll become quite easy. :)

Make sure you give your tiel extra head scritches after!:)

13,610 Posts
Cockatiel Wing Clipping

Wing Clipping is a controversial issue. Let me state that on this forum there will be NO arguments on clipping or not clipping. To each their own, and it is up to the bird owner themselves on whether or not they want to clip or not.

Anyways, wing clipping. Proper wing clipping should enable to bird to glide or flap gently down to the floor or from place to place. Clipping is meant to slow a bird in and inhibit lift. A clipped bird may still fly away outside so do not bring a clipped bird outdoors without a harness. All it takes is one gust of wind or a slight breeze and the bird is gone.
A full clip really diminishes flight. They can gently glide or flap down instead of dropping like a rock or flying high up and fast. A full clip invovles clipping most of the primaries (number varies on species).

A semi clip involves clipping 2-3 flights from the primaries. This clip allows full flight, but slows the bird down so it can not attain the speeds they can.

This is a semi clip

Clipping should be done to BOTH wings as clipping only one wing will unbalance the bird and can result in injury from crashing. Do not clip the secondaries. This clip makes the bird drop like a rock and they can seriously harm themselves. The secondaries provide support. Without them, the bird has no support and falls. Clip 4-6 flights for a full clip in cockatiels. Four flights should be enough for larger birds. To be on the safe side, always trim less first.

When clipping, use the wing coverts as a guide. They should line up to the coverts on the top of the wing (primary coverts)

Images below are on how to clip.

This is an unclipped wing

and this is a clipped wing (5 flights)

Its also very important to allow baby birds to fledge before clipping. Meaning, let the babies learn to fly before clipping. If not allowed to fledge, these birds grow up prone to injuries and are not as muscled as fledged birds.

If there is any blood feathers, post pone the wing clipping until the blood feather is grown in. NEVER clip a blood feather!
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