Wing trimming

Wing trimming appears to be an area of controversy – and one of multiple different opinions.

The main question is – should i trim the feathers on my pet bird?

The answer – depends on the bird. Your life. And your environment.

If you live in a high rise apartment. Yes please. Right now.

However there are a few reasons in the for and against categories.


  • Unable to fly away/escape
  • Limits potential misadventure/trauma
  • Training without fear of flying away


  • Trauma from overzealous clipping/ learning the ropes
  • Limits exercise (ie flying) – leading to behavioural issues, obesity, self-harm and feather picking.

The good news is you can really limit the cons, by correctly performing the trims. However, it is worth noting – the whole point of wing trims is limiting flight. There is no guarantee that a wing trim will prevent flight. Please check flight ability of your bird after the trim!

These are two methods that appear to be performed with your birds best interests at heart:

Method 1 – The Shaft Clip

This is best described and illustrated by the Brisbane Bird Vet, here:

The Brisbane Bird Vet has an amazing pdf file illustrating where, which feathers and how many to cut. Check it out!

Method 2 – The Trailing Edge Clip

I first heard of this at the recent UPAV-AAVAC conference. This technique includes timming the trailing edge

This is best demonstrated by image:trailing edge


Dr Driggers discusses that by trimming the trailing edge, you can keep the behaviour of flight – reducing the risk (eliminating) of behavioural issues from no flight. And by trimming only the trailing edge you decrease only resistance on down stroke- which limits vertical lift (ie upward flight). This also increases wing movement, increasing exercise.

This is a paragraph summary that does is a poor representation of the amazing proceedings from the conference. So if you can see those, you absolutely should.

If you’d like to hear more from us at Exotics Vets, sign up to our mailing list! Either by emailing us at, on on our contact page – Contact


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