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Although it is not, strictly speaking, necessary to clip parakeet wings, many owners still choose to do so. Bird owners who support wing-clipping typically emphasize safety concerns and the need to maintain dominance and control over avian pets. Other bird owners oppose this stance and argue that it is a very bad idea to clip parakeet wings. They stress the importance of flight for a bird’s safety and the psychological and physical risks associated with wing-clipping.
When a parakeet’s wings are clipped, the primary flight feathers are normally trimmed back to about half of their normal length. This will prevent a bird from being able to take flight under most circumstances. Wings clipped in this fashion will still generate enough lift when flapped to allow a bird to break a fall from a high place, which is an important safety concern, since birds will instinctively attempt to fly, even if their feathers have been trimmed so that they cannot effectively do so.
The major reason to clip parakeet wings relates to safety. Parakeets are often adventurous little creatures, and a parakeet with the ability to fly freely can be very difficult to corral, especially in larger homes. Owners often worry that parakeets with the ability to fly might end up getting into dangerous situations and locations, as well. A parakeet with a full set of flight feathers may also escape outside. Pet owners often use wing clipping to reduce the odds of a parakeet being able to fly away and go feral.
A second school of thought argues that it is a bad idea to clip parakeet wings. This camp contends that the safety of a bird is generally compromised more by the inability to fly than by the ability to get into trouble by flying. The ability to fly is especially helpful for birds whose cages are in somewhat precarious locations, where a fall could prove dangerous.
Opponents of wing clipping also contend that birds are psychologically ill-suited to live without flight feathers. Birds are meant to fly, they argue. A bird without the ability to fly away from trouble or danger is a very nervous and unhappy animal.
In short, it is not absolutely necessary to clip parakeet wings. It may be a good idea to do so in some cases, especially if a real risk of escape into the wild exists. A parakeet with unclipped wings will likely be a happier bird, however, and may even be a safer bird in some cases.