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Progressive Wing Clipping

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Skyes_crew
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Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:36 am

I am a staunch advocate of keeping a bird flighted. But I wasn't always. I will continue to push for flighted over clipped, but I do understand that there are always people who won't feel the way I do. But I also believe there is a right way, and a wrong way to go about clipping a bird. My past mistakes along this avenue have been brought to my attention (thank you Johan). Below is an article written by one of our own hawaiian native bird experts. His works in parrot enrichment, behavior analysis, and natural birdsmanship have been beneficial to many. Here he talks about the benefits of progressive wing clipping. I hope some of you find it useful should you make that decision to clip.


Birdkeeping Naturally by Eb Cravens
“The Progressive Wingclip Method”:
Eight years ago through experiments in the flight room of Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, NM., we developed what we call the Progressive Wingclip Method (PWM) for use with cagebirds.
This procedure is based upon the fact that when the one or two strongest primary flight feathers on each wing of a psittacine are cut back, the bird immediately begins flapping faster to make up the difference in wing surface area. Thus his level of exercise goes UP with the clip, NOT DOWN. Seven to ten days later, another feather on each wing is cut and the process begins all over again.
Feathers are always clipped evenly on both wings starting with the longest thick- ribbed power primaries-those that drive the bird forward, and working back towards the secondaries, the softer, wider feathers at the back of a wing which act as flaps to provide braking and control. These are never clipped except in the case of a cockatiel which can still fly minus all primaries.
The PWM solves a host of problems brought on by drastic or improper wing trim techniques. Take a parrot just entering the fledging stage, for example. In many cases, a baby bird still in the midst of its handfeeding is clipped by owner or breeder the instant the young chick takes off on its first wobbly crash flight out of the holding tub.
Stop a moment and think what this means....
In the name of safety, a fledgling psittacine is denied its full wingspan during the earliest developmental stage of its natural bird behavior. In truth, this is a totally “unsafe” practice since it denies the parrot the chance to learn the more important lesson of LANDING!
Ever wonder why your pet walks everywhere? Wonder why he leans forward with “begging wings” to be picked up from only eight inches away? Wonder why you cannot get him down from that curtain rod or that tree he has flown into?
He's terrified, that's why! Look to his fledgling training for the answer. Early wing clip--no training.
Parrot fledglings left with their full wingspan will quickly learn control. Especially important are the weeks prior to weaning when baby fat is lost and an immense wingspan to body weight ratio results. These re the days our chicks learn to hover in mid air desperately seeking a safe spot to put down. They learn the quickness of eye and decision-making necessary for the speed of being airborne. This is when babies perfect the art of “flap and hop”, the courage to jump into the air and experience to throw out their wings to a feet-first landing. That is the skill which rids a handfed pet of “begging wing” posture from eight inches away!
Don't run for the scissors after baby's first flight' run to the bedroom for 20 minutes training on a large, soft landing strip. Then follow it up with his first introduction to a dirty glass window. Press his face against it, tap his beak against it. Repeat: “Glass, Glass.”
Ever see one of those walking parrots plummet off his perch and try to land the way it climbs? Many a bruised cere, broken beak, or bloody breastbone occur each year in the birdworld when pets who were never allowed to fledge take off suddenly and crash.
Among my clipped birds the longer I left their wings at fledgling, the safer they now are. Today we try not to begin initial PWM wing phaseback until the parrot has demonstrated all necessary flight skills: Braking, flying up and down, turning right or left, taking off and landing from springy twig or rope perches and from an upside down position. It's easy to tell when a fledgling has adequate skill and confidence-- like any teenage driver, they begin to increase their SPEED!
The benefits of PWM are enormous. Properly fledged parrots develop a larger, stronger upper chest musculature, tight slender hips and legs, and tremendous foot-claw strength. They lead a more active lifestyle, often hopping from perch to perch or jump-flapping to their owner's shoulder.
Furthermore, we now know for a fact that pets who occasionally escape and fly off are not always wishing to go so far. They are merely scared to be airborne and find a treetop only when they crash into it and grab on for dear life! Train your fledgling pet to fly to your arm on command. It is a practice that will thrill you, and a lifetime skill which may save the bird's life!
So important do we believe flight skill is to the natural development and instinctual savvy of a parrot, that we will not again purchase a psittacine pet which has not been properly fledged. Conscientious breeders now utilize fledging rooms and large walk-in flights for proper chick training. Even Macaw babies are easily taught to land in control, then are slowly clipped using PWM.
When the top two primaries on each wing are cut, a bird loses some 25% of its flight, but will gain most back in a few days with increased flapping. One more feather is clipped. In some species four of five feathers is enough to limit distance and keep the bird from gaining altitude. For lighter species such as lories, ringnecks, small conures, etc. Five or six feathers are cut. With PWM it is easy to se when a feather is growing back in--then snip it.
In the case of the popular pet cockatiel, flight training is of utmost importance. These hookbills are so very light and swift that crashing into walls and windows is common. A premature wingtrim that grounds them leaves them helpless and in danger of injury.
With such sensitive species as African grays, greatbills and hawkheads, improperly fledged birds may develop nervous, trembling habits which lead to falls or even feather self-mutilation. Such species should NEVER be abruptly grounded with a drastic wingclip. Our choice is to leave more feathers on these species to let them develop a full range of climbing, hopping and acrobatic skill before clipping.
Incidentally, in fourteen years of parrotkeeping, we have never had to trip a single toenail in flock. Flight to and from rough barky surfaces wears down nails naturally. So good luck, and the next time you acquire a baby parrot, see that it is a PWM fledged bird. The results are impressive.
Also....copy this and pass it on to pet stores, friends, anyone dealing with babies. For the sake of our bards, it is important.
Aloha nui loa, ebc.
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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InTheAir
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by InTheAir » Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:29 am

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad to see they advocate fledging properly! That's great.

For me, I love my fully flighted birds and they love their wings to be the natural way!

Ps I was scared you had jumped the fence when I saw the topic!

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:38 am

lol...that's why I said right up front that clipping is not something I support myself. :D

I posted this because today we had to organize a search party for a club members goffins cockatoo that got away. She was an inexperienced flyer (recently flighted after being clipped for years) and as such, didn't know how to fly down or land. So she flew across and up. If she had fledged properly she would have possibly had the ability to come down when called. She is safe and found now...but I'm sure her owner has a new respect for the improperly fledged bird.
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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InTheAir
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by InTheAir » Tue Nov 19, 2013 4:08 am

I'm so glad they got it back! I'm sure they will be doing flight recalls religiously now. We get Nila to practise down the stairs and hide around the corner sometimes to get him thinking on the wing.

My recommendation for those who want to clip is to buy an edged irn, the patterning on the flights is amazing! The whole bird would look a bit boring without it

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:12 am

That is definitely great motivation not to clip :D

We had a house fire here a few days ago. There were four birds in an upstairs room. The firefighters let the birds out the window because they were all flighted. You know what, they were also all recall trained :D the owner recovered all four of her birds.
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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MissK
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by MissK » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:50 am

Skyes_Crew,

1) Thanks for posting this interesting article. I found myself thinking, hey, it actually might not be such a bad idea to trim just those first feathers so Rocky can get the very most out of his short flights in the house. Thoughts?

2) The Puppy-heads thank you for posting this interesting article because I scorched an whole pan of eggs while reading it.

3) Good save on the Goffins, and the house fire - just WOW. I have always assumed we would have a 100% loss in the event of house fire, due to smoke inhalation. In fact, I did not even list the birds on my "fire fighters please also rescue" door sticker. I felt I didn't want firefighters risking their lives to save my birds if they were just going to die from smoke anyway. Am I wrong or were these guys just famously lucky? --And recovery of all 4 - that's great!
-MissK

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:09 am

I'm thinking they were extremely lucky birds. Most of the news reports are concentrating around the cause of the fire so I'm not too sure how they escaped smoke inhalation. My guess is they found them early on. I remember going to a fire just up the street from where I grew up when I was a child. My dad worked that call that day. Fully engulfed apartment building. I watched as firefighters handed pets out of a window just above the main entrance canopy of the building. And a few of them were caged birds. I had a bad case of hero worship after that lol.

I'm sorry you didn't get your breakfast, but not really because the puppies got a treat :mrgreen:

How is Rocky's flying that you want to clip a few primaries? Are you looking to increase wing flap? I tell you, I clipped a few of hamlets primaries back a few months ago because I was terrified of taking him out to the breeders house and losing him. He not only increased wing flap, but also gained some better control over short distance flights. I will not be clipping those flights again in the future, but it was interesting to see how much power he retained.
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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MissK
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by MissK » Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:28 am

Just thinking he doesn't fly a whole lot, especially now that the Budgies have moved right next door. his primary motivation to fly was to access their cage. I have to "encourage" anything further. Just thinking if he had to work harder he might get more beneficial exercise?
-MissK

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:18 am

Yeah, well, I was being modest for him lol. :mrgreen:
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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Kimma
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Kimma » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:54 am

If you get a bird that's already been fledged and clipped in the regular way, would doing progressive clipping the next time around still be beneficial do you think?

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:11 am

Yes!!! Most definitely. But before the bird is clipped at all anymore, he/she should have a sufficient amount of recall training. This clipping method is used on well flighted birds who have confidence in their flight capabilities. If the bird is just continuously clipped in any method without proper flight training, it poses a risk to injury. Do you know if your bird was properly fledged before being clipped?
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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Kimma
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Kimma » Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:24 pm

I asked the breeder if he did progressive wing clipping, and he replied that he always lets his chicks fly before he clips them, but didn't go into further details. My bird isn't fledged yet though.

I feel weird grilling him on his techniques when he is experienced and I am a noob. But I am going to see him and my bird for a visit which hopefully will give me a chance to talk to him more casually and find out about how he does things.

How involved/time consuming is the recall training you're talking about? Is it something he'd be able to do without too much trouble? Is it something I could do by visiting for a few hours over a weekend?

Is it reasonable to tell a breeder that you insist your bird be recall trained before it's clipped?

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Skyes_crew
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Skyes_crew » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:05 pm

Does your breeder insist on clipping before selling you a bird??? Recall training should be done by you after you get your bird. If its at all possible, ask that your bird remain flighted. It's not something you can train in just a few short sessions. It takes trust and time between you and your bird.
I am owned by my birds...and I wouldn't have it any other way :D

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InTheAir
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by InTheAir » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:18 pm

Flighted birds are the best pets!!! I love our little trouble makers!
If your bird is hand raised and confident with hands it probably won't be very hard to train a basic recall. My new bird picked it up a couple days after she started stepping up, but it is not reliable yet and only works when I am not more than about 3 metres away. My bird isn't very tame though, Nila was much easier, it was teaching him to stop flying to us all the time that was the challenge!

Greenpitbul1113
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Greenpitbul1113 » Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:10 am

About recall training you mentioned before, how it can be achieved? My ringneck is 7 months old and it cannot still fly but I am scared the moment it will be able to fly as the cage inside the room is always open and many times the balcony doors are also open.. This is a hand raised creature and is so friendly with all of us inside the room but in the past I lost 3 parrots (not hand raised) as they escaped from the cage or the last rosetta fled in the process of cleaning the cage..
Coukou's mate

MissK
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by MissK » Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:46 am

Hey, you should get the family to agree to always shut that balcony door, or else you may have to enclose the balcony with a screen. Once Coukou figures out how to fly this is going to be a major issue, as you noted. I think it is not quite right that the bird isn't flying yet, but it may be that he flies once there is proper motivation. I had to "teach" my Ringneck to fly by sitting out of range and eating yummy nuts. It took not more than three days. Get that door closed; it's of the highest importance.
-MissK

Greenpitbul1113
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Greenpitbul1113 » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:06 am

xaxaxa,thanks missK, I will suffer a heart attack if this bird escape.. In fact, its tail since a month and half has started become longer and now I think completes its increase. I bought the bird at the beginning of October where its tail was small and for 2 months is increasing in lenghth.. Once a day, Coukou tries to jump from its cage but hits the floor like its droppings.., and then walks on the floor like a penguin.., as nothing has happened., moving and exploring..
Coukou's mate

Tyeman
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Tyeman » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:06 pm

Ive heard of this method before and tried this method before but i always seemd to trim to much...That or my bird was just lazy...I would love to see some diagrams or photo's of this method...One of my current irn's still has a couple of stitches in him because its previous owner never let it learn how to fly or land and he ended up splitting his tail open he's almost got his full wings back ill be letting him have full flight for a while and then i was planning on using this method but yea some diagrams or photos would be really helpfull

MissK
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by MissK » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:16 pm

Greenpitbull, are you very sure that Coukou's wings are not clipped? Do you see the long wing feathers cross over his back like a letter X?
-MissK

Tyeman
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Re: Progressive Wing Clipping

Post by Tyeman » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:22 am

Greenpitbul1113 wrote:xaxaxa,thanks missK, I will suffer a heart attack if this bird escape.. In fact, its tail since a month and half has started become longer and now I think completes its increase. I bought the bird at the beginning of October where its tail was small and for 2 months is increasing in lenghth.. Once a day, Coukou tries to jump from its cage but hits the floor like its droppings.., and then walks on the floor like a penguin.., as nothing has happened., moving and exploring..
on of mine split its tail open from hitting the floor like that due to the previous owners clipping its wings be carefull cost me 500$ surgery

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