Winging It

I haven’t had any birds in my home in quite a long time and even when I did I wasn’t very involved in their care. Apart from a few feedings, and some hellos while passing their cage, I didn’t have much interaction at all with these winged housemates.

Pet Birds

Now, all these years later, I’ve found myself wondering how I would handle something like wing trimming if I needed to. The thought came to me after another not so fun session of nail clipping with our cat, Bear. He’s ready to take off heads and anything else he can get his claws on when the time comes and that led me to interrogating our poor pet vet about the issue. I had to make sure our feisty feline wasn’t being hurt somehow even though we’re not hitting the quick and we’re being careful about gentle restraint. In the end I was assured that Bear is fine and that his reaction to getting his nails trimmed is a natural one, but believe me if someone ever finds a better way…well, you get the idea.

Back to birds.

I’ve spoken with some bird owners and done some research myself and while I’ve found some solid pros and cons to be honest I still don’t know what I would do! Let’s take a look at those arguments so at least if you’re considering the option you’ll head into it better informed.


The best, most important pro I found is that preventing a bird from flying around inside your home can prevent them from hurting themselves. Common household fixtures such as ceiling fans or even a clean window can present a real danger. Other threats such as a hot stove or perhaps fascinated feline can also be a real problem, not to mention various other issues you may not even think of until your bird discovers them for you.

Another minor problem is that a flying bird will turn your entire house into a potty. Obviously this isn’t dangerous in most cases, but it certainly isn’t desirable.

Last we have the issue of escape. A bird that can fly doesn’t need much time to soar through an open window or door. This potential hazard is both worrisome for you and possibly deadly to your bird as most feathered companions are not prepared for the dangers of wild living.


The common comparison made in the industry is that trimming wings is no different than a person getting their nails clipped. Having Bear around obviously I’ve heard this before and if you look at a chart showing where the nerve endings in a bird’s wing are located you can’t deny the logic. That said, if you trim too far another fair comparison is that it’s no different than someone cutting the tip of a person’s finger off. No fun for you, for birdy, for Bear, or anyone else.

That led me to wondering if you could get a bird’s wings professionally trimmed. In my area the answer is basically no. Some vet’s can and will perform the task, but after asking around it seems like most bird owners are on their own.

Now the most common argument made against trimming is that it’s cruel. Why? Simply put it’s because birds fly and a trim renders them incapable of that very natural ability. From what I’ve gathered most trimmings aren’t permanent, but that hardly matters if trimmed wings are a constant in birdy’s life.

So…is it cruel? That’s a very difficult question to answer. Some pro-trimmers site the luxury lives a well cared for bird can enjoy in the right home and say that trimming is a small price to pay for their overall safety. Many anti-trimmers claim that removing a bird’s ability to fly is comparable to preventing a person from being able to walk and is therefore simply unthinkable. I’ve met some very happy well loved birds who couldn’t fly, but I’ve also seen more than a few birds enjoying a brisk gust on a warm, sunny day. What’s right? You’ll have to decide. But if you’re reading articles like this, and trying to do the very best you can for your feathered friend, I’d say you’re off to a good start.

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