Why I Keep All Of My Birds Flighted

Why I Keep All Of My Birds Flighted

 January 18th, 2015
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Camelot macaw, Comet, on a free flight trip.

Generally I tend to avoid the topic of wing clipping, we all know how heated these discussions can get, however I personally can’t see myself ever clipping or allowing anyone near my birds’ wings! Birds fly, I accepted that way before I even set foot into parrot “ownership”. I think everyone would agree when I say that there are very few things as beautiful as a bird in flight. Those colorful flight feathers and skilled graceful movements are more than we crazy bird lovers can handle. Before any of my birds were actually flighted, I did a ton of research online to more appropriately explain my decision for choosing not to clip their wings again. There are quite a bit of information regarding the health benefits but I couldn’t find much regarding behavioral differences. This was quite the learning experience for me, a very fun one!
But first, this blog post will not be about wing clipping in general (check out this post by Patty ), this will just be me sharing my experiences with flighted birds.
Only half of my 6 birds came to me flighted, so I think I have a pretty good understanding of the behavioral benefits with flighted birds. The three birds that came here flighted are Sky and Neon, two male budgies, and one female, Smooches. (Will introduce them in the next post!) Even though Smooches and Neon aren’t as tame as Sky, they are the picture of confidence. The two other budgies, Snowball and Robin, both had cosmetic one wing clips (when one wing is left fully feathered but nearly all the feathers on the other wing are clipped except for the first primary flight feather), they are nervous and clumsy even though both are almost fully feathered. Wouldn’t take much to completely throw them off balance and short flights are all I can ever get out of them.

My two perch potatoes, Snowball and Robin. Snowball is the white one in case it's not that obvious.

My two perch potatoes, Snowball and Robin. Snowball is the white one in case it’s not that obvious.

Zaza (my Senegal parrot) recently molted out his last clipped feathers and is now fully flighted but I tried to encourage flight even while he was still clipped. He’s been practicing his flight skills on his own these days and honestly, the nervous, overly phobic, clumsy bird I brought home last year has all but disappeared! Especially the clumsy part. I can’t even recall the amount of times Zaza fell to the ground unable to save himself from a potentially dangerous and painful fall. At one point I even had a stack of thick towels folded underneath his newspaper in his cage, naturally he ended up with a foot injury that took a long time to heal up. Hard to believe the same bird can now comfortable fly 10 feet to and from his cage multiple times with ease. Before every flight he says “come on, come on Zazi” (that’s like the cutest thing ever).

Also one thing I never thought flight would have any affect on is…their appetites! Zaza used to drive me insane with his picky attitude towards his food. Not just him not wanting to eat healthy food, but also him not eating more than a few bites at a time. Regardless of the food offered, a teaspoon amount was all I could get into him. Which made training and ‘bribing” very difficult, but after starting with the flight training and after becoming confident enough to take short flights on his own, he pretty much cleans out his bowl every day. Sky and Neon are also very excited about their fresh food and wouldn’t think twice about devouring a big piece of kale or swiss chard!

Sky loves his greens!

Sky loves his greens!

I think flight is especially important with rescued birds. When you think about it, MOST rescued birds have been poorly treated in one way or another. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve seen who complain about their bird’s biting yet can regularly be seen forcefully handling their bird who is desperately trying to get away from them. Of course, those are usually the same people who fall on their backs when they see my birds willingly flying to my hand. Even if that bird finds a loving and understanding home, flight would finally provide that bird with a choice and the confidence to put his past behind him! I can’t ever see myself taking away that type of freedom from my birds just because I don’t want to work harder to ensure their safety.

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5 Comments on “Why I Keep All Of My Birds Flighted”

Hailey  01/19/2015 11:15 pm

I keep my 4 budgies and quaker parrot flighted because they love it! I also take advantage of the health benefits and definitely the confidence boost it gives my birds. I only clip their wings when I have to trim their nails, or before a vet visit. budgie’s flight feathers grow quickly, so it’s not a big deal, and I use their flight-less time to grow a stronger bond and teach them tricks since the acrobats aren’t being distracted by their tag games and “lets see who can fly to the weirdest landing spot and destroy whatevers up there” game. lol
My quaker enjoys outdoor free-flight with one of my budgies named Olive (don’t worry even tho a budgie a.k.a easily distracted and hyper active, olive is amazingly tame and disciplined) and my quaker Bobby likes t fly to me in the house too and we play hide and seek sometimes! it’s so much fun :3

Alan  01/20/2015 12:46 am

I’d kept my lovebird fully flighted (sadly passed from cancer at age 12 4 years ago – still miss him so that my heart aches) and my green cheek conure is flighted. The GCC is a male and still quite hormonal at age 4. Perhaps keeping the flight feathers trimmed would decrease some of the aggressive behaviour during those times, however I’ve learned to live with some of that behaviour and found ways to be patient until it passes. Joey loves to fly around the apartment each day for several hours. This isn’t like being outside, but it does provide some exercise that he wouldn’t have otherwise were he trimmed.

Caleb Joshua  01/24/2015 4:52 pm

Hi, a few days ago I got a Indian ringneck and hes a magnificant bird because he is hand trained and doesn’t have a problem with your shoulder or hand but his wings are slightly clipped on each side but he can fly! And hes not bad because he flies to his cage but he doesn’t fly back though… Please please can you help me improve his flight ability

Nola Johnson  02/02/2015 7:20 am

I see ‘Comet’ on a flight outside. What stops him from flying away, forever?

Nuzaik Mohamed  02/25/2015 11:00 am

Hi. My cocktails is flighted and he will fly anywhere he wants(he flew away from home 5 times) and he knows that I want him to fly to me when I call his name but he is lazy to do that but when he is very hungry I can manage him to fly to me. \anybody have ideas?