Clip and No Clip
I have two gorgeous Macaws- We got them both as babies, one was clipped one wasn’t.
Kailani, our Catalina Macaw, was about six months and was heavily clipped when we brought her home. She never tried to fly-
This year we got Kami to be Kailani’s sister. Kami, our Harlequin Macaw, wasn’t clipped. She’s a year younger and she glides around the house and the back, enclosed lanai with the greatest grace and ease. We never taught Kami to fly, it was a part of her natural development. Even with her flight feathers now grown out, Kailani wasn’t trying to fly. I’ve had to work with her to help her develop her ability to fly, which she’s just starting to realize.
One of the things that cleanly happens to a bird is that they forget that they know how to fly. May seem impossible, but it becomes the conditioned way they think or process themselves and their lives. Kailani just wasn’t considering the fact that she could try flying, even though she watched Kami longingly as Kami flew off the perch to where ever she wanted to go. I have a Yellow-naped Amazon who has never tried flying, she barely stretches her wings. I adopted my Amazon as an adult and I don’t know her history. Shortly after bringing her home, the avian vet said that Lorenza, (Amazon), had elevated bile – which indicated liver issues, Fatty Liver Disease. This is, likely, due to many years of having been fed poorly (a seed-based diet) and probably having been in a cage. Lorenza is unlikely to fly. I don’t think she realizes that she can; she rarely stretches her wings and never flaps them. She has forgotten and her body, likely hurts her. Her bones aren’t in great shape (calcium deficiency which is also due to a seed-based diet), illustrated by her X-ray and there is fat in her veins, even though I’ve corrected her diet so that her bile levels are no longer elevated.
I understand why parrots get clipped: they are expensive and no one can afford to have a parrot fly out the door! Shops would never make money or a breeder’s efforts would fly off too early.
When To Clip
However, timing is important. We like letting our parrots learn to fly before clipping wings is even considered. Flight is who they are as birds, as we see it. It doesn’t mean we won’t clip, it means that it’s not our first choice. A parrot who gets clipped often sulks and isn’t as happy afterwards. We tend to clip for a parrot’s well-being or another’s safety. Otherwise, we love seeing their colorful feathers as much as they love showing them!
Flight is great exercise for parrots and some experts say that without the exercise, parrots can’t be as healthy and that it could affect their life span.
Each parrot-keeper must decide what’s best for their parrot given the household circumstances. For us, flight is a burden – because it means that our parrots can fly to undesirable places and break things when we blink! We are very fortunate to have an outdoor area where they can perch, pick at a palm and fly safely in the screened area. We wish Kailani’s wings hadn’t been clipped as a young baby; but she is young enough that she is starting to take to the idea of flying.
If you have the time to spend with your parrot, be sure to let them fly in safe spaces or give them practice on your arm, the way I do in the video, so that even your clipped parrot can stretch their feathered wings!
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No mess feeder: