Why NOT to Clip Your Parrot

Why NOT to Clip Your Parrot

 February 11th, 2010
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Originally Dave and I thought we would be able to free fly our birds all around the country on this tour. But we’ve started the tour in December and now that we’re into February it’s just plain cold. It was 9 degrees out here in Shelbyville, TN the other night and so flying outside just isn’t a very smart idea.

Instead, we have been free flying inside! We have finally caught onto our schedule enough to be able to take advantage of the empty arenas before anything is set up for the show.

We shared the arena with the elephants; Bonnie, Suzie and Mini.And we had their trainer, Ramon Esqueda, there just in case any of the elephants felt nervous about the birds then Ramon could calm them since they look to him for comfort.

The birds had a blast! As you will see in the video above.

And it reminded me of something SUPER important to parrot owners…

Exercise via flight for your bird makes it TIRED, which almost always is followed by cuddles. Our birds were SO cuddly during this time and especially afterwards. They wore themselves out playing hard and flying around burning tons of energy and just wanted to be close and cuddle. Comet and Tusa aren’t always the most cuddly birds, they remind me of cats in the respect that they have to be in the “mood” and come to you for cuddles. But whenever we fly them like this, they just want to snuggle up afterwards and be mellow and sweet.

If we ever notice our birds being a little more on the aggressive side, we look at their schedules and always realize that they need more exercise to burn that excess energy and this energy can ONLY be burned to the best and healthiest extent via FLYING. It’s so so so so SO so so important not to clip your bird’s wings and to let it have the freedom of flight specifically for health purposes alone.

However, I promise you will also notice behavioral changes as well. Flight training is a great way to build a strong a bond between you and your parrot as well as work in healthy exercise. Birds that go through flight training usually eat much healthier too, because their body craves the good stuff.

Enjoy the video from our recent adventure and I will be sure to continue to keep you all updated with more from our flock!

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9 Comments on “Why NOT to Clip Your Parrot”

caz  02/16/2010 12:59 am

Hi Jamie Leigh,

I have a moral dilemma. I have four birds currently – 2 rainbow lorikeets, 1 Alexandrine and 1 baby Eclectus. I really want all of them to have full flight, but my partner and I take our birds out and a bout with us, and they LOVE it. I worry that if they have full flight, that I may lose them. I know it’s possible to train them to want to stay with us, but what is the best way to do this?? I want them to have the joy of flight, without the concern of losing my beloved babies for good.

Any advice would be wonderful!!

Thank you!!


Jamieleigh  02/16/2010 10:46 am

Hi Caz,

There are risks to everything, it’s just about weighing them out for yourself and doing what feels right to you. BirdTricks.com offers a freeflight course, it’s expensive but it’s a one-time fee and lifetime of knowledge that you can use on your entire flock.

You can use a harness when you go out. There are pros and cons to this, you could accidentally not hang on when your bird takes off, or your bird could hate the harness to the point it’s not enjoying being out but is more distracted with removing the thing. (training will help with that).

You could also take your birds out clipped which it sounds like you might be doing? … and to me, that’s the riskiest. Clipped birds can still fly, but once they’re far enough away from you they are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to predators getting ahold of them. At least a fully flighted bird has a much better chance at getting away. (I also worry more about predators than the bird wanting to get away from the person, because mine are freeflight trained)

I think it’s awesome you take your birds out and about with you, but I also think it’s super important health wise for a bird to fly, even if it’s just in large places you find indoors. I use a batting cage to take my birds outside and get play time a lot. So hopefully you can find a way to keep taking your birds out and about with you, but keep them fully flighted too so that they are healthy and getting enough exercise. Hope this helps and doesn’t make your decision harder! 🙂

Caz  02/16/2010 10:53 pm

Thanks JamieLeigh!

I really appreciate your feedback! I think we are going to look at harnesses until we can do a training course. Unfortunately, being located in Australia makes things VERY difficult in regards to finding people that run a class in person.

My partner and I have been looking at purchasing a few of the DVD’s from birdtricks.com, so I think we will bite the bullet and do it!

I just have one more question (sorry for being a pain). we’ve just found out that our new Eckie that we somewhat rescued from a terrible breeder has Scoliosis. Would it still be beneficial for her to fly, or would this cause more damage?? We are in the process of getting her checked out at one of the three Avian vets in my state, but is there any advise or a point of direction you could provide?

Thank you again for your assistance, i love reading these blogs!

Best regards,


Jamieleigh  02/16/2010 11:06 pm


That question is much better suited for your avian vet so I would definitely ask them. One of our birds (military macaw) was diagnosed recently with heart disease, apparently he was born with it and no one ever caught it until now. But several avian vets said flight is great for him, just not in extreme excess. But they actually recommended flight training.

Dave Womach (Chet’s bro of Birdtricks.com) has scoliosis and I know that working out, stretching and exercising is extremely good for people with scoliosis. It warms the muscles and lets them relax so they aren’t so tense and pulling things out of whack like normal. He also got taller the more he worked on stretching, and the more he worked out his back muscles, the stronger they were and the less pain he’s had. So I would think it would work the same way with your bird but definitely ask a vet to be sure. Honestly, I can’t imagine a circumstance where flight wouldn’t be good for the bird to have.

Hope this helps! And by the way, just for your info, the outdoor freeflight course can be taught over the phone and through video consultations. When Dave conducts the course with students, they do all the training and he coaches them through it. Then at the end for the first flight outside we usually join up and fly together and “hold your hand” so to speak for that first big jump. But if we work with people overseas, we just can’t be there for it. If they’re still up for it though, it’s a great experience. And you can always do it with the thought that you aren’t going to take it outside, but that if it ever did happen, you would be ready.

Hope all this is helpful!

caz  02/16/2010 11:37 pm

Thanks JamieLeigh, again your information is awesome 🙂

I’ll have a chat to the vet for further confirmation. So worried about my little Leela Eckie. Hopefully she will still live a long life. I think stretches and flying would most likely be good for her.

Looking forward to getting into flight training!!

Thanks again!

Caz x

Edin  02/18/2010 10:40 pm

Amazing!!! I only have 1 Parrot buy i have 6 Budgies. My parrot looks Exactly 100% (im not kidding) like the one in the middle at the top of this page. It’s a girl and it’s name is Sunshine. She’s 12 years old but i got her about a month ago from a friend. It hurts when it bites. once i put on a very thick snow glove and it still hurt when it bit! it’ll bite my hand but no my face, nose, arm, or anywhere else. But after seeing some of these videos i think i can get it to stop biting. 🙂

Sarah  02/23/2010 7:58 pm

Which state are you in Caz? im in South Aust. and am thinking about getting into free flight aswell

Teresa  04/09/2011 10:04 am

Dear caz and Sarah
I live in South Australia also and have recently decided to let our bird fly. We had him clipped for the first 4 months but that created difficulties (could still sort of fly and then got stuck up high and also he didnt seem happy and had so much energy all the time). When we got him the owners didnt know how old he was but he has always been clipped. So after 4 months with him and he had settled into our family I decided it was time for his feathers to grow in. First we trained him to fly inside using “fly” and “come on” as command words. Then we tried him outside in the morning (in case he flew into a tree and then took us all day to get him down). He has been flying outside now for a month. I always worry that he will fly too far, but I hope this never happens. He is my baby and I have never had this attachment so close to a pet before. He is so happy now, and more well behaved indoors and that makes me happy. There is lots more I could say about his training but it would take me pages to write it all.

ancerAcasse  06/26/2011 11:44 pm

Awsome site ! I will save it in my favorites. thx