Wing Clipping Eclectus Parrots

Laurella Desborough

Birds’ wings are designed to enable birds to fly. Birds’ wings do serve other functions though, and that is not always taken into account when the wings are clipped. Wings provide a means for the bird to secure balance on the perch and to enable ease in walking and running. Young Eclectus parrots under one year of age are still developing their skills in perching, climbing and flying. When the wings are clipped at the time of the bird’s first flight, the bird has a great deal of difficulty in developing normal climbing and flying skills. This in turn inhibits the development of self confidence in the bird. It may cause in some birds a great deal of insecurity which can be displayed in less than desirable ways.

Wings also serve as insulation for the bird’s body. If you notice, Eclectus parrots do not have a thick undercoat of down, but rather a thin down undercoat. When the wings are hard clipped on young birds, a part of their thermal control is removed. (Hard clipping is cutting all the primaries close to the base of the feathers.)

Daily grooming of the feathers is the bird’s way of keeping its feathers clean and functional. Unkempt and unorderly feathers make flight difficult. Birds have an instinct to groom their feathers. Eclectus parrots will work on their feathers after each flight or handling. When wings are hard clipped, the cut ends of the feathers dig into the sides of the bird and become an irritant, encouraging the bird to work on them often and try to remove the problem. Such daily efforts to remove this irritant can lead to chewing on the cut ends which can lead to feather chewing and plucking. I would not recommend a hard clip on an Eclectus parrot.

I would recommend that Eclectus parrots not be clipped until they have had at least one month of daily flying exercises. At the time the bird is ready to go home from the breeder, I would then clip the primaries, starting at the mid point of the longest primary and making a slanting cut towards the outer edge of the secondaries, such that only the outer half of the primaries is removed. This will enable the bird to make a glide across the room or from the cage top to a chair or to the owner. This cut will not gouge into the sides of the bird and will still allow for restricted indoor flight. By the way, I would NOT take any bird outdoors unless it is inside a cage or carrier, whether or not its wings are clipped. Many hazards exist outdoors: hawks, dogs, cats, cars and stranger abductions all pose a danger to your bird.

We do not clip the wings of our pet Eclectus parrots at all. When they are outside the cage, they are free to fly about the house, from one end to the other. They will do this to exercise, and then they end up on a shoulder or on top of the computer monitor or onto a counter where we are working. They will also fly to us if we call them. We do not have a lot of people in and out the doors and no small children. I would not recommend flight for pet Eclectus in households with small children or with a lot of people going in and out the doors.

There are house rules when Eclectus are unclipped. Lids on all pots. Pots on all burners. When the stove is in operation, all birds are in their cages. Toilet lids are always kept down. Check door tops before closing doors. Pay attention if you are going outside that a bird is NOT on your shoulder. Don’t leave tempting items laying around, fruits, packaged treats, interesting equipment with bright colored buttons, pencils, watches, and jewelry. Don’t leave any food containers with lids sitting on the counter tops. The birds will remove the lids to get at the contents. Don’t leave windows and doors open unless there is a sturdy screen in place. Of course, you never leave poisonous materials around. Our house rule is that whoever lets a bird out of the cage is responsible for that bird during the time it is out of the cage and is responsible to return the bird to its cage.

©2014  Laurella Desborough