It can keep pet birds from getting loose—and lost—but at what cost?

By Sarah Grossbart
Updated April 26, 2018
Pet cockatoo
Credit: Airubon/iStock/Getty Images

Q: We just got a pet cockatoo and have been told that some owners clip their wings. Is this recommended?

The choice to clip your bird’s wings is a personal one. The painless procedure involves a vet clipping off typically six or seven feathers per wing. Wing clipping limits flying by preventing birds from getting upward lift, explains veterinarian Evan Mavromatis, so when your bird leaps, “he has a gradual descent and a controlled landing.” It can protect pets from flying into hazards such as a hot stove or a ceiling fan and from escaping through an open window. Detractors, however, label the procedure inhumane because it takes away birds’ most defining characteristic and a primary form of exercise. For those considering the cut, know that it’s temporary. Due to molting, new feathers will grow back in roughly six months, says Mavromatis: “It’s really akin to a haircut.”