is the proud caretaker of Ollie, a 5-month-old blue and
gold macaw that she has raised from the egg. Ollie is
doing very well with free range of Amandaís home,
though I suspect Ollie would refer to it as his home.
has allowed Ollie to fly inside the house, but she is
concerned that as he becomes more adept at doing so, he
might escape its confines and fly into the wild blue
yonder. This fear has prompted her to ask if she should
have Ollieís wings trimmed.
off, I will say without reservation that no bird should
ever have its wings trimmed. That is in essence an
amputation and never to be done except in the case of a
necessary surgical procedure. I do realize what Amanda
is asking, however, and want to clarify the terminology:
The question should read, "Should Ollie have his
trimming in our avian companions is a very commonly
performed procedure. It is not, however, always
necessary. As a caretaker for a bird, it is ultimately
up to you to decide whether or not to have your birdís
feathers trimmed, and that decision should not be made
without understanding the consequences.
companion birds are capable of flight. In fact, they can
be extremely good fliers, even within a household, and
flying is an excellent form of exercise for birds. In
making the decision on whether or not to trim your birdís
feathers ó in essence disallowing them to fly ó this
exercise potential needs to be taken into account. If
your bird is not flying, how then will he exercise?
very important consideration in making the decision to
trim or not to trim your birdís feathers is who will
be doing the trimming? Are they aware of the proper
trimming technique for your species of bird? Do they
have the proper instruments for trimming?
trimmed wing feathers can lead to problems in birds,
some of which can be devastating. I have seen cockatoos,
for example, that have had their wing feathers trimmed
in such a way that the ends of the trimmed feathers were
poking the sides of the birds causing them great
irritation and leading to self mutilation as a result.
of the worst possible scenarios is breast bone
fractures. This occurs when the wing feathers are
trimmed too short and the bird drops like a stone to the
floor when attempting to fly. This contact with the
floor can cause enough blunt force to split the breast
you have considered your situation with your avian
companion and are strongly considering having his wing
feathers trimmed, make an appointment with your avian
veterinarian to discuss it. He or she will steer you in
the right direction once learning of your home
trimming is chosen, he or she will discuss the proper
technique needed for your companion and then perform the
trimming. Exercise for your bird should also be
point I want to make is to strongly urge people who have
avian companions not to trim their own birdís
feathers. Some birds hold grudges. They generally do not
appreciate being groomed, and it is best they blame
someone other than their caretaker for the indignity
(and restraint) of it all.
there are situations where a birds wing feathers must be
trimmed. However, my bottom line here is that this is
not something that automatically needs to be done.
with free rein of their households can learn to fly
beautifully and indeed to fly back to their cages to do
their "business." Every situation is
different; use your veterinarian to help you decide what
might be best for your bird and your unique situation.