Clipping your parrot By Lisa Umstead
To insure against the tragic escape of your pet before he has had the chance to become acquainted with you, it is advisable to clip the wings. Wing clipping is painless, temporary and aids in the training of your bird, which will most likely become docile when he realizes he can't escape your clutches. I have seen the nastiest lovebird turn into a most lovable being when it realized it couldn't fly away & needs to become dependent on its' owner.
For most clips, it is advisable to have two people available for the procedure. One to hold and one to clip the wings. For smaller and tamer birds, one person can usually hold and clip. For some of the larger amazons & macaws, you definitely need two people. These bigger guys are so strong and can get very frightened at just the sight of a pair of scissors. A sharp pair of scissors is usually all that's required. Simple dressmaking shears or a pair of bandage scissors will do the job just fine. Some people find success in using toenail clippers to clip one shaft at a time. Each person has their own method which proves most beneficial to them. It is important that the scissors be sharp so that the clipping can be done with quick, efficient strokes. Cutting with a dull scissor will only stress the bird out and the result will be the butchered look.
Usually it is recommended to clip the first 7 primary feathers, which are the flight feathers. If you take your bird out often, then you may wish to cut all primaries. Streamlined birds, such as ringnecks and cockatiels will most likely fly with the best of clips, since they are so light and a good wind will just quickly carry them away.
Be careful not to clip the blood feathers, which are new growths that contain blood vessels, which will bleed if clipped and can be painful. Clip only the feathers that have reached their full growth and the blood supply is no longer present. As your bird molts, new feathers will grow. It is advisable to keep them clipped, even if it's just a feather or two at a time.
If you have a tame bird, as he's sitting in your lap, you can innocently sneak up with the scissors and give a quick snip. If a blood feather breaks, it is as if a straw is sucking the blood out and will spurt all over the place, looking as if a massacre has taken place. You can either apply pressure, with a cloth or pull out the blood feather with a pair of pliers or clamps. This is not as easy as it sounds.
You must restrain the bird, covering the head with a towel, and holding the back of its' neck, so you don't get bit. Grab the root of the feather and give a quick, firm pull. Most times this is effective. Sometimes it will even bleed a little and you might need to apply an ice pack to the site for a minute or two. I have received many calls on the hotline, in which the person on the other end is usually hysterical and lives an hour away. Just remain calm and one usually can be talked through it.
The PFC has members all over the Island who will be happy to assist in an emergency, if you are unable to contact your vet. Carol, our VP does in home grooming and can be reached at 631-661-6377 or Gabibird@aol.com. Grooming is also available at the monthly meetings by Fran. If you can't make a meeting, you can always go to your local pet store, such as Parrots of the World, or stop by my house and I'll be happy to clip your bird, in a pinch. Be wary of the teenagers at some of the smaller pet stores, who may be inexperienced. And it is always advisable to bring your own towel when having your bird groomed, for health reasons.
It is advisable to have a container of quick stop available to apply to a bleeder. While this may be caustic to the skin, in an emergency situation it may be just what is needed to stop the bleeding. Remember; do not attempt to do this if you are inexperienced. You may accidentally cause permanent injury to your bird or not clip enough and your bird could fly away.