Wing clipping

Every few months the Internet starts buzzing with a subject that is typically more emotive than most. That subject is wing clipping and it is one of those subjects that eludes logical thought and good judgment.

Now you may think that as someone who flies birds on a daily basis I would be solidly in the “never clip” camp. If that is what you think then I have to assume that your point of view is at one extreme of the argument or that perhaps you have never really thought about it in a non-emotional and logical way.

My position and that of almost every professional bird trainer I know and respect is that the real answer to clipping is not as clean cut, or black and white, as many might expect. There is no always right answer. The truth of the matter is that the choice to clip wing feathers to prevent or limit flight ability depends entirely upon the individual bird AND owner, a unique combination. It is unfortunate that this choice is more and more becoming a “politically correct” question, and sadly a marketing ploy to sell training materials! My friend and colleague Steve Martin wrote an article about this issue a couple of years back, it expresses what I believe is a well considered position, it does it so well that I don’t propose to reiterate the content here, only to encourage everyone to read the article. I support the positions Steve so eloquently expresses.

As I said in the beginning of this article this is a very emotive, maybe the most emotive, issue in the companion parrot community. It is this way I feel because caring owners do become attached to their birds and they are vulnerable to the hyperbole of those at the extremes of the discussion, especially when they are told that their bird will be “happier and healthier” if they don’t clip or “safer” if they do. The problem is that neither extreme view is correct, nor is it based upon facts or science, it is a belief. This reminds me of a quotation that I keep reiterating because it should remind us to be wary of our beliefs as they can, and often do, blind us to the real truth of a situation.

A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.

Robert Oxton Bolton

To make a bird owner feel guilty because they have a clipped bird when it is the safest, healthiest way they know how to keep that bird is irresponsible and to insist that they allow the bird full flight is to set them up for potential heartbreak.

To say that anyone who can not keep a bird flighted should not own a bird is the kind of fanatical point of view that may lead us in the direction of the road to legislation prohibiting keeping bird as pets. The animal rights groups will forever be your friends.


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