Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Clipping Your Cockatiel's Wings and Trimming The Nails

Clipping your cockatiel's wings needs to be done for two main reasons:

  1. Safety-in order to prevent her from flying into or out of a window and possibly harming herself.
  2. Dependence- a cockatiel that needs you to move her from room to room and to safer heights is easier to control. Also, this need fosters trust between you and your cockatiel creating a better relationship.

Clipping your cockatiel's wings does not hurt her one bit. In fact, it is more hazardous for her wings not to be clipped.

Clipping your cockatiel's wings is not easy, especially not the first time. It is very easy to injure your bird. Therefore, the first time you need to clip your cockatiel's wings I strongly suggest having your vet do it.

If you plan on clipping your bird's wings after the first time, you should pay close attention to how your vet does it. Also, ask your vet to show you what blood feathers look like so you do not clip these; clipping these can cause your bird to bleed to death.

I prefer to take Loki to her vet every time she needs her wings clipped and her nails trimmed. It costs me $11 dollars for both, but I find reassurance in knowing that it will be done properly. Also, I do not want our relationship to deteriorate as a result of clipping her wings so I prefer to have someone else do it.

The feathers that need to be trimmed are the primary feathers.

All of your cockatiel's primary feathers need to be clipped because they are strong little fliers; even when all the feathers are clipped cockatiels can still fly to some degree.

Loki does not fly high, but she can still glide low to the ground.

NEVER cut the feathers of only one wing. Both sides need to be clipped so the bird stays balanced. If your cockatiel should fall or needs to glide down it is essential that her wings be balanced, otherwise she can become severely injured.

Signs to alert you that it's time to clip your cockatiel's wings:
  • At the end of each of her biannual molts because she will have grown in new feathers.
  • Your bird is gliding about the room more than usual- cockatiels will always be able to glide to some degree, but when she starts to fly further it's time to clip her wings again.
  • Your cockatiel is acting more aggressive and snappy-she has become more self-reliant because of her ability to fly (glide) further than before.
  • Occasional stray feathers that grow in out of turn.

It is also important to keep your bird's nails trimmed because:

  • It allows your cockatiel to remain comfortable and able to perch.
  • Provides comfort to you (it does not feel good to have sharp nails dig into your shoulder or finger skin).

This should be done on an as-needed basis; however, it is easiest to combine this maintenance task with clipping your bird's wings.

Make sure to avoid cutting the quick when trimming your cockatiel's nails. This can cause bleeding.

Signs to alert you that it's time to trim your cockatiel's nails include:

  • You cannot hold the bird without having your skin scratched or bruised.
  • Your bird's nails are getting stuck in sweaters or carpeting.
  • A nail looks extremely long and is threatening to grow up into the pad of your bird's foot.
  • When she perches, her nails wrap around each other.
  • When she walks on a flat surface, her nails force her feet up.

Supplies needed to clip your cockatiel's wings:

  • Sharp scissors
  • Needle nose pliers
  • A few paper towels
  • A towel to help hold the bird
  • Always have flour or cornstarch on hand in case of accidental bleeding.

Supplies needed to trim you cockatiel's nails:

  • Toenail clippers

How to clip your cockatiel's wings:

  1. You will need someone else to assist you in holding the bird and stretching out her wings.
  2. Gently wrap the towel around your bird and talk calmly and reassuringly to her.
  3. Keep her face exposed so that she does not become nervous.
  4. Gently stretch out the first wing and look for blood feathers, which should NOT be clipped.
  5. After determining which feathers are mature (okay to cut) and which are new (blood feathers) clip the mature feathers only.
  6. Repeat this on the other wing.

How to trim your cockatiel's nails:

  1. Examine the nails and look carefully at where the quick or vein ends.
  2. Clip only the tip of the nail, below the vein.

After you clip your bird's wings and trim her nails spend time with her reassuring her of your trust. Comfort her and allow her to see that you are not the enemy or something to be feared. Give your bird her favorite treat and play with her.

Watch your bird closely after she has her wings clipped because she may not realize she cannot fly yet. Keep her off high surfaces in case she decides to try to fly.

For more information on nail trimming watch this informative, how-to video presented by Kaytee.

For more information on clipping your cockatiel's wings check out the following video.

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