Can cockatiels fly with clipped wings?

Flying is something humans have admired since the first time they looked up and saw a creature spread its wings and soar. We love birds, which is why we keep them as pets, and we want to be sure that they live in the most natural environment possible. We want them to fly high. 

No matter how much we want to believe they’re free, our birds are captives and need to be kept safe from their instincts at times. We keep our dogs on leashes when we walk them because we don’t want a car to injure them. Believe it or not, clipping a cockatiel’s wings is for their good. And we will tell you why. But first, can cockatiels fly with clipped wings? 

Can cockatiels fly with clipped wings? Yes. It depends on how much you clip the wing. We don’t clip our cockatiel’s wings to prevent them from flying altogether. But it does hinder their ability to fly upward or sustain that position. While this might seem cruel, it is to stop them from flying into dangerous places or escaping.

Is it cruel to clip cockatiels’ wings?

 Whether or not this is a harsh process is a moral judgment you need to decide for yourself. Some believe it’s in the bird’s best interest, and others don’t. If you are in doubt, talk with an avian veterinarian, an animal doctor specializing in birds. 

While it may seem cruel, it’s important to remember, birds that are left unclipped will be able to sustain upward flight, which will enable them to get into tight spaces like air vents or fly out the fireplace chimney. There is so much potential for dangerous situations when you don’t clip your bird’s wings; some believe it’s cruel not to have the procedure. 

If your cockatiel gets outside, there are likely larger carnivorous birds that will see his yellow feathers. As animal lovers, we want our pets to have the most natural experience they can. A cockatiel with clipped wings wouldn’t do as well in the wild as one without. It’s important to remember our birds are not living in the wild, and they never will be. Even if they made it out the window, it’s unlikely they would be able to fly to Australia. 

Some believe it’s cruel not to clip the bird’s wings, which inadvertently exposes them to harm. You can compare it to a cat or dog’s nails. In the wild, they need sharp claws for protection and digging. But they don’t need this in our homes. If a dog’s nails get too long, they can split and cause infection. Cat’s can hurt you or others if their nails are not clipped once in a while. Also, your furniture could suffer from felines who have sharp claws. 

When you consider the harm your cockatiel can do to themselves by flying in places that aren’t safe, it doesn’t seem as cruel to clip a few wings for prevention. 

How long does it take for cockatiel’s clipped wings to grow back? 

Typically it takes 3 to 6 months for the feathers to grow back, which is why it’s a procedure you would need to repeat if you decided to have a bird with clipped wings. 

Baby cockatiels may take longer to grow their wings back. Some say it could take as long as 18 months. They would be learning to fly at this stage, so clipping them will stop them from obtaining specific motor skills needed to pass but land. Clipping younger cockatiels before that learning stage will likely crash land, which could cause them to break a feather or worse. 

You may want to wait until your cockatiel learns to fly and land correctly before having the procedure done so they will be able to handle their flight well. 

Should you not clip cockatiel’s wings? 

Clipping your bird’s wings is a personal decision between you and the other members of your home. While a captive bird who is not allowed to fly is safer, it is a big decision and not something you want to jump into blindly. The first thing you want to do is contact an avian veterinarian. Clipping a cockatiel’s wings is something you can do yourself, but you might hurt the bird if you are unsure of what you’re doing,

Avian vets train for this procedure, so it might be a good idea for you to watch a professional do it for the first clipping.

Suppose you are more comfortable with the idea of doing it yourself and want to save the vet bill; that’s fine. The more feathers you cut, the less their ability to fly. Don’t go farther than ten primary feathers. 

Why should you clip cockatiel’s wings? 

The primary reason to clip the wings of your cockatiel is for their overall safety in captivity. If you are building an aviary where your birds will only be flying around in a natural setting created for them, there is serious potential for dangerous situations. 

We’ve mentioned a few but, if you take a moment to look around your home, we’re sure you can find a nook or cranny where your little friend could get lost, stuck, or hurt. Animals are instinctual and don’t understand the things in our life like heating vents or mouse traps. It’s our responsibility to keep our pets from harm. We do this in the same way we child-proof a home. 

Your cockatiel can be compared to a baby because that’s what all pets are in our world. Utterly dependent on our attention and care. Otherwise, they could get into trouble. 

Do cockatiels behave differently after you clip their wings? Birds, like people, are individuals, and each one will act differently to having their wings clipped. You may see a change in their personality but don’t fear. Cockatiels are not known to hold grudges after a clipping. 

As we’ve already stated, clipping is something that you will need to keep up on, so after a few times, you won’t see much of a change in personality because they will be used to the process. 

How much does it cost to have the vet clip a cockatiels wings? 

We’ve researched several avian vets, and it turns out some charge as little as $15 while others charge $60. We haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary, but there is always the possibility of it being more. Your best bet is to call your nearest avian vet and ask for their prices or check out their website. 

Finding an avian vet near you should not be difficult, especially if you live in an urban area. A simple Google search brought me to many in our area, which is metropolitan. Rural areas likely have vets who deal with all types of fowl, so no one reading this should have a problem finding a doctor specializing in birds and clipping wings. 

Of course, if you do it yourself, it will cost you nothing but time. Before you just jump in and try, we suggest that you do as much research as possible and watch some YouTube videos to make sure you know what you are doing. It’s possible to make a mistake and injure your bird or stop them from flying at all. Clipping should not take away their ability to fly. Just hinder it a bit, so they don’t get into any precarious positions. 

Rick Matthews

Hello, I am Rick Matthews, I have helped raise 100's of pets in my life living with my Father who while we did not live on a farm, raised all sorts of animals to sell them to families. We had so many different pets we all quickly became experts intending to them and helping them stay healthy. Back then we did not have the internet to look up thing on how to take care of their kids. As my kids got older, they wanted pets and of course, I did not want to have as many as we did when I was a child, but wanted to share my experiences. Many of these articles are written to help educate families on what to expect when looking to get a new pet for their children.

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