Wing clipping is a common practice where a budgie’s flight feathers are trimmed, preventing them from flying with the same level of efficiency.
The budgie won’t reach the same heights, fly for long distances, and will flutter close to the ground. Budgies don’t need their wings clipped, but it’s not a cruel practice.
Since budgies with wings can escape through open doors and windows, there are risks if a bird gets loose. Also, there are safety concerns as budgies can fly into ceiling fans, low doorways, and hot stoves.
However, there are times when trimming the wings does more harm than good. It may struggle to exercise, need help navigating and playing, feel less happy, and be more dependent.
Do Parakeets Need Their Wings Clipped?
Budgies don’t strictly need their wings clipped. It’s a choice that the owner can make, with many advantages and some disadvantages.
To clip a budgie’s wings involves trimming its flight feathers, reducing its ability to fly. It’s primarily done for safety reasons. Budgies that escape from their homes have a low chance of survival.
It can also improve the bond between owner and budgie, as they’re more dependent on their owners. So, people sometimes clip budgies that are being trained.
Many owners refuse to clip their budgie’s wings and urge others not to do so either. However, keep in mind that many of the reasons to avoid wing clipping are rooted in myth.
Here are some common misconceptions about clipping a budgie’s wings:
Is Clipping A Budgie’s Wings Like Declawing A Cat?
While the two may appear similar at first, there are strong distinctions between them.
Flight feathers will grow back after wing clipping, while claws don’t grow back after declawing. That’s because declawing removes the first knuckle of the cat to eliminate the claws.
Wing clipping is more like trimming nails; it cuts off the ends of the flight feathers, which have no feeling and can grow back. In fact, after a molt, a budgie will grow completely new ones.
Budgies don’t feel anything when you clip their wings, so the only time wing clipping is painful is if you nick a blood feather accidentally. If done correctly, this should never happen. However, declawing is a surgical operation requiring anesthesia and a vet.
In short, declawing is permanent and painful, while wing clipping is temporary and painless. You can clip wings at home or ask a vet to do so to avoid any harm to the blood feathers.
Can Budgies Fly With Clipped Wings?
It’s inaccurate to say that a clipped budgie will be completely unable to fly. The goal of wing clipping isn’t to stop flight but to prevent the budgie from sustaining flight.
It’ll take off, become unbalanced in the air, and fail to maintain itself over long distances. It’ll also lack the torque needed from its flight feathers to reach great heights. Without the length of those feathers, the budgie won’t catch as much wind or propel itself upward, especially more than once.
The budgie will flutter only a short distance at a low height before landing on the floor. A clipped budgie will catch itself before hitting the ground. It still has wings and can soften its landing. However, it won’t be able to fly upward and out through an open window.
It’s recommended to trim one side instead of both wings because budgies adapt to the new length and may still retain their accuracy in flying. Making one wing long and another short will throw off a budgie’s balance and stop it from accurately making it out a window.
Do Clipped Wings Grow Back?
A concern that owners have with wing clipping is permanently cutting off their budgie’s wings. Don’t worry because you’re not taking off the whole wing, just trimming the flight feathers.
As long as your budgie’s feathers are trimmed correctly, this part of the wings will grow back. There will be no permanent change after a wing clipping.
Clipped wings don’t grow back. Rather, they are replaced when a budgie undergoes molting.
Clipped Wings Harm Molting
Some people believe that clipped wings are harder to replace or that clipping hinders molting. However, there’s no evidence that this is the case. A budgie’s feathers will be replaced whether or not it’s clipped.
Should I Get My Budgie’s Wings Clipped?
To enable you to decide, here are the pros and cons of clipping your budgie’s wings:
There are advantages to clipping your budgie, including:
Most owners choose wing clipping to protect their budgies from the outdoors.
After all, the greatest risk of owning this small, curious bird is that it’ll fly away. Perhaps you leave a window open by accident, or someone comes home and the budgie slips out before the door is shut. Clipping your budgie’s wings can prevent these unfortunate scenarios.
Pet birds, especially those as small as a budgerigar, have a low chance of survival if they escape from the home. An escaped budgerigar will likely be killed by predators like cats, dogs, and local wildlife. It can also die from dehydration, starvation, and exposure to extreme weather (hot and cold).
You can’t train a budgie to come back home. Budgies are small and agile creatures, easily distracted by things they see outdoors. If they have a chance to fly out a window, they likely will.
While not as dangerous as the outdoors, your home presents risks, such as:
- Ceiling fans
- Hot stoves
- Low doorways
Without the ability to fly, it’s easier to monitor and control the actions of a pet budgie.
It’s easy to get injured when pursuing a budgie around a house or large apartment, especially if you’re elderly or have a disability. Startled budgies can fly into your face, causing cuts and abrasions.
Wing clipping will strengthen the bond between owner and budgie. Without its ability to fly, a clipped budgie will depend more on you.
It’ll need to sit on your shoulder to navigate the home. Accessing food and foraging will be slightly more difficult, so it’ll rely on you for meals.
You’ll have to keep a closer eye on clipped budgies to ensure they don’t fall or hurt themselves.
By limiting your budgie’s mobility, you can better control where your budgie poops.
Here are reasons you might want to avoid clipping a budgie’s wings:
Male budgies will find it more difficult to balance and wrap around the female to mate.
This can make clipped wings damaging to your budgie breeding efforts. However, some males can overcome this with practice, and others have no problems.
If you’re dedicated to breeding budgies, perhaps avoid clipping their wings.
According to Animals, wing clipping deprives parrots of essential exercise.
Flying requires significantly more energy than walking or running. A clipped budgie can still walk, hop, dance, and climb, but its movements will be much reduced without its flight feathers.
If you take away flying, budgies will find it difficult to stay fit and healthy. Without sufficient exercise, budgies can grow obese and develop degenerative health issues.
Lost Mental Stimulation
According to Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, enrichment reduces stress and abnormal behavior.
A lack of mental stimulation can be damaging to budgies. Flying allows a budgie to interact with its surroundings, reach higher places, and see more interesting things.
Not for Show Birds
Show birds, such as English budgies, rarely get clipped as their flight feathers are essential to their appearance. Even if your budgie isn’t a competitive show bird, it can ruin the beautiful look of your bird.
How To Clip A Budgie’s Wings
There are two approaches to clipping a parakeet’s wings:
- Take your budgie to an avian vet or pet shop
- Do it yourself
Where To Get Your Budgies Wings Clipped
Most avian vets offer a wing clipping service as a part of a general check-up, but you can pay for wing clipping if no other veterinary services are required.
In the hands of an expert, there’s little chance of nicking a blood feather or stressing your budgie unnecessarily. It’s recommended to take your budgie to a vet if you’ve never clipped wings before. This applies if you plan to clip the wings yourself later on.
Observing an expert is a great way to learn. You can see where to clip, how to hold your budgie and ask for tips. Choose a vet if your budgie has not been clipped before.
How Much Does It Cost To Clip Budgie Wings?
A vet may include the cost of a wing trim in the check-up, or you’ll pay an extra $10 to $20.
If you pay for it separately, the price will be influenced by the following factors:
- Size of the budgie (normal budgie vs. English budgie)
- Clinic you visit
- State, city, or town
Having wings clipped at a pet store will be more expensive, perhaps $30-$60.
It costs less to trim a budgie than a larger parrot, such as a macaw.
Doing It Yourself
This is ideal if you won’t have the chance to take your budgie to the vet, whether it’s due to availability or a lack of funds. It’s also good when your budgie is calm and used to your presence.
Accidents can happen, so it’s best to be prepared.
The most important tools are those which stop any bleeding, such as:
- Cornstarch or styptic powder
- Paper towels
You’ll also need bandages, such as:
- First aid tape
- Wooden sticks
- Cotton swabs
A quiet area is important, so avoid those with foot traffic, windows, or any area with loud/sudden noises.
Ideally, it should be an area that your budgie knows. This will lessen its chances of fighting or trying to fly away. Good places include a bathroom or bedroom.
Clip The Wings
The most common method is to clip the five outermost primary feathers.
Here’s some advice:
- Don’t clip the feathers close to the body as these are the secondary feathers.
- Avoid clipping any shorter than half of the feather.
- Don’t clip into feather shafts that are dark in color, as these are blood feathers.
Some owners choose not to cut 1-2 of the outermost feathers for cosmetic reasons. This may cause problems, as even these two feathers can be enough for a budgie to take flight. Since budgies are so small, it doesn’t take much for them to lift off, so include these feathers when clipping.
You can also choose to only cut one wing, not both. This will ensure that any budgies that take flight lack the necessary balance to get too far.
Feather clipping can be draining on a budgie. Not because it hurts, but because the experience is stressful. Even being toweled up in the arms of an owner will be uncomfortable.
After a clip, let your budgie rest for a few hours.
How Often To Clip Budgies’ Wings
Vets recommend clipping budgies’ wings 1-3 months after the commencement of a molting cycle.
Even wings that aren’t fully grown can be sufficient for a budgie to escape through a window. You can ensure that your budgie doesn’t grow its wings long enough to escape by clipping it shortly after a molt.
Budgie’s Wings Clipped Too Short
Clipped wings will grow back during the next molt, and they’ll do so without any damage. As long as your budgie wasn’t clipped to the bone, the wings will eventually grow back as if nothing happened.
Of course, a wing clipped too short isn’t harmless. Budgies need their wings to balance and get from one place to another. Budgies with too-short wings will be more prone to accidents.
As long as you’re keeping your budgie’s safety at the forefront and are realistic about your limitations, the chances are that you’ll make the right choice.
Wing clipping isn’t a permanent decision. The wings will grow back, and you can always decide not to clip your budgie’s wings after its next molt.