• Should my grey have its wings clipped?

Wing-clipping is done in various ways and some types of clip are more severe than others. Clipping involves shortening some or all of the bird's main flight feathers (the 10 primary feathers). This may be done to one wing only, in order to deliberately  unbalance the bird if it should attempt to fly; this is the most dangerous type of clip. Other forms of clipping where both wings are clipped evenly but lightly with some of the primaries left intact are less crude and allow the bird at least to fly down and land safely indoors. Although the moulting process should eventually see a re-growth of any clipped feathers, this process can be problematic for clipped birds as they may break the new 'blood' feathers that grow down.

The commonest reasons giving for clipping a bird are to control its movements or for the bird's 'safety'. However, all birds,  whether clipped or not, are subject to some risks: clipped birds are just at risk in different situations. Where clipped birds escape from the home, there is more chance of them being caught by a dog or cat or of being run over by a vehicle. Other problems for  clipped birds can be more serious. When clipping prevents upward flight, such birds often become very fearful or 'phobic' and generally have greatly reduced confidence. Parrots have no behavioural response to cope with being unable to fly and many greys find flightlessness very distressing. A grey's most valuable means of escaping from a fearful situation is, of course, simply to fly away, preferably to a higher perch. Again, clipping denies the bird this most vital escape mechanism. As most people prefer to keep their bird without having to clip its wings, the training section in this book explains how you can teach your bird some  simple requests or 'commands' from you to control its flight. This usually only takes a few days and these requests, once taught, give you all the control you need. Also your bird can behave more naturally by being able to fly. It is the provision of opportunities for a bird to express its normal daily behaviours, including flight, which is at the heart of the prevention of a range of many common behavioural problems in these birds. Consequently, it is recommended that your grey should not be clipped but be encouraged to fly and that you teach the flight requests explained earlier.

Even a 'mild' clip like this, on both wings, can cause great distress to a grey.

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