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Unsure whether to clip older (rescue) parrot

Nostromo

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Hello everyone,

I am the very fortunate owner of a sweet and delightful nine year old female blue head Pionus named Zephyr. We adopted her almost exactly a year ago. As far as I am aware, she has been clipped her entire life and doesn't really know how to fly - she is not very interested, either, and only tries to fly if she's panicked or very frustrated.

So here's my question: should I continue to clip her wings, or should I let them grow out and if so how do I make it safe? We just moved to a bigger place, a small bungalow. Zephyr is the main living area, so she is near a entrance door (there isn't really a way to have her not near a door and still be out with us). I've been letting her wings grow out because I don't love the idea of clipping... and I've seen her flying in panic with clipped wings, smashing into the things and plummeting to the ground, and it doesn't seem very safe or healthy for her. That being said, I'm really concerned she may fly out the door. We've been here a week and she's attempted flight only twice: once from her perch to her cage when she was startled, and once from her cage to her perch. She landed quite well both times and I was amazed at the difference in control and precision she has for "emergency landings" compared to when she was clipped.

One thought I had for how I can make it safer - hanging a bead curtain over the door she is nearest to? Any other suggestions, opinions and ideas about whether to clip and/or be safely flighted would be very welcome!
 

Shezbug

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Please do let her feathers grow back. It is lovely to see them doing what they are designed to do and the more she is able to practice with the flight the better she will get.

For the door...can you hang a heavy curtain there as well as the beads?
 

BeanieofJustice

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I second the heavy curtain and beads idea, and being careful about when the door is open or could be opened. I know with my flighted bird (even though he was clipped, my scarlet cannot physically fly), I keep my door locked when he's out so that I have time to react to anyone coming through that way. Maybe that's not an option for you but it was a thought.
It's great exercise for a bird to fly, it keeps them in shape and helps build muscle. Also, a clipped bird can still fly, the store where I got Tibs from clipped him and he is the bird in my icon who is flying. And his feathers haven't grown out yet. So it doesn't really ensure their safety by clipping them.
 

Mizzely

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I don't clip :) I have a 19 year old Jardines who was not given opportunities to fly (and really was too sick to do so) who also really only flies when panicked. The first few months he landed on curtains, the floor, etc. Now that he has more flight muscle, he actually can land better.

This is all to say - if you have been sitting on a couch your whole life, how good of a runner can you be without practice? To clip because they are clumsy is missing the fact that clipping can be a huge cause of that clumsiness, as they need to have muscle strength, stamina, and practice to be good fliers. Flying is a skill, and needs to be honed to be used correctly.
 

JLcribber

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I don't clip :) I have a 19 year old Jardines who was not given opportunities to fly (and really was too sick to do so) who also really only flies when panicked. The first few months he landed on curtains, the floor, etc. Now that he has more flight muscle, he actually can land better.

This is all to say - if you have been sitting on a couch your whole life, how good of a runner can you be without practice? To clip because they are clumsy is missing the fact that clipping can be a huge cause of that clumsiness, as they need to have muscle strength, stamina, and practice to be good fliers. Flying is a skill, and needs to be honed to be used correctly.

Bingo.
 

TikkiTembo

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It's been a big adjustment in our house, but we keep the doors locked when the bird is out, and make plans to exit safely when needed. We're lucky to have three exits, so he can be easily brought away from one area while someone exits through another area. Also, careful planning on when he comes out. If I know someone is coming over or will be leaving, he goes in his cage.
It's worth every second of careful planning to see him flying happily!
 

HolliDaze

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I clipped dexter once shortly after he fully fledged. Never. Again. It took two years for him to fly frequently again (toos seem to enjoy walking after having been clipped) but he seems so much happier now that he is free to fly. He’ll fly to my shoulder while I’m walking (sometimes to my annoyance, but I quickly get over it), to his cage, or follow me when I leave the room. He flies (sorta) on command, unless of course, if he has something “better” to do.

I believe exercise is important to a long, healthy life, especially to a bird that would sit around all day other wise. Birds were meant to fly, they literally gave up arms, maybe even a second set of talons, so they could fly. They were made to walk everywhere just as much as we were meant to crawl. (Which is why people compare clipping to cutting off someone’s legs)

Taking that away from your bird is like taking off a persons thumbs, in my opinion. You’re stealing their independence along with a big part of who they are.

Now, I’m not saying “people who clip are horrible” because we all make different choices for different reasons. And while I don’t like clipping And think it should be avoided, I won’t condemn anyone who disagrees. That would be hypocritical of me anyways, because I clipped dexter myself. In that case, it was because I was uneducated and dexter liked flying upstairs, where a very bird-hungry dog lived. I didn’t know about the bead trick so I did my best.

I think you should leave your pi unclipped And spring for the bead walkway idea =)
 

finchly

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Congrats! I am owned by a 23 year old white capped Pionus. He came to me clipped. He’d been in a cage for 17 years, supposedly. He has beautiful wings now and his cage is always open - so he can come and go. Mostly he goes out onto the perch on the front of his cage, bosses everyone around, and goes back in.

Since he was clipped so long, his flying is not a show of confidence. He can’t land where he thinks he will. So I put a ladder from the floor up to the cage. His latest trick is to wander down the ladder and walk around exploring things, then wander back up.
 

Fuzzy

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Without a doubt, let her fly! You are already seeing landing improvement since her feathers are growing in which is fantastic! :dance4: Much safer for her. Birds are built for flying. Pionus are normally very strong fliers - their chest muscles are bigger than average because of their extra half wing beat - earning them the name, Pionus, which means fat parrot. Bobbie (Red-lored Amazon) couldn't fly when she first arrived. She learned. She still flies like an elephant, but getting better all the time. She is always so excited to fly that she usually gives a squeal as she takes off. No more worrying that she will fall and smash her keel bone. Ollie (Orange-winged Amazon) too has improved tremendously... almost as agile as Kobe (Blue-headed Pionus)!

Beaded curtains are a great idea. I made fly screens for the doors and windows here. Like Chelsea I forward plan re cage time and safety.
 

Dartman

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Lurch was clipped when I got him and because of it and probably not getting much out of cage time he was completely outa shape and could hardly even stand up on his own legs. He'd just puff right down and squat to sit around and didn't even climb the cage very well. After about 6 months his flights started coming in and he'd surprise himself by suddenly startling and taking off straight up then doing a few laps and being totally winded and sleeping for a hour afterwards.
As his wings grew in and he got more strength he started making more flights for longer periods and got his control and stamina back. At the end he was zipping through and around things and flying after me whenever I left the room. He was happy and loved to fly and started to trust me almost completely as he had his freedom to do as he pleased within reason and could fly like a fighter jet. It gives them joy and confidence and a bit of safety as they can escape with luck if something tries to get them. Always try to train them to fly down as it's one thing most pet birds never learn and it scares them to try. If he ever escapes he wont be afraid to fly down to you for a treat and a rescue. Let her fly and take the necessary precautions and everyone will be happy campers.
 

finchly

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Lurch was clipped when I got him and because of it and probably not getting much out of cage time
Lurch was a chunka munka like Ernie!

It gives them joy and confidence and a bit of safety as they can escape with luck if something tries to get them. Always try to train them to fly down as it's one thing most pet birds never learn and it scares them to try. If he ever escapes he wont be afraid to fly down to you for a treat and a rescue. Let her fly and take the necessary precautions and everyone will be happy campers.
Yes! Teaching them to fly to you is a great idea.
 

Appolosmom

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please don't. I just got 2 bourkes siblings that the former owner clipped the female's wings, says she was an escape artist. She has been depressed and having to watch her brother fly around when she can't. Birds are meant to fly like humans are meant to walk.
 

Mimi75

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Pamela Clark wrote a great series of articles on the topic of flight. She is for it but acknowledged there are times when it’s not the best option. I thought they were great imo.

Search Results for “Flight ” – Pamela Clark, CPBC

I find her sight hard to navigate though so just enter flight in the search field if you are interested.

The first article that comes up is about outdoor free flight but keep scrolling there are others about indoor birds.
 

Lynn L.

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Pamela Clark wrote a great series of articles on the topic of flight. She is for it but acknowledged there are times when it’s not the best option. I thought they were great imo.

Search Results for “Flight ” – Pamela Clark, CPBC

I find her sight hard to navigate though so just enter flight in the search field if you are interested.

The first article that comes up is about outdoor free flight but keep scrolling there are others about indoor birds.

Good information, thanks.
 

Zara

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Birdbabe

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None of my birds are clipped. They all fly through the house, fortunately, we have a long hallway to the garage, which is our main entrance, but only used when the garage door is down, and the front/ back doors to the garage are closed, the other two entrances in the house are always locked and never used . If anyone got out, they would be in the enclosure of the garage,..we also have security doors, so we can open those two doors for air movment.
 

Just-passn-thru

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Nostromo

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This has all been fabulous advice and sharing - thank you! The articles by Pamela Clark were really informative. One thing she wrote about was older parrots who are heavy-bodied rarely regaining the ability to fly, and having their wings grown out is even more dangerous than a clipped bird. Zephyr is about 9 and I assume she's heavy-bodied as she doesn't have a long tail. She does not seem to want or like to fly... she'll frequently lean forward and act like she wants to take off, but only if something really startles her will she actually fly. We've tried kind of "nudging" her off our fingers when she's leaning forward to see if she'll do it, but she only looks at us in great betrayal, lol.

I guess the next step would be to try to teach her to fly, and see if she can do it... any resources on how to teach an older parrot to fly? And how likely do you guys think she is to learn? She did fly about 10 feet from her perch to her cage, gaining elevation and landing quite smoothly - perhaps an indication she'll be a good candidate for flight?
 
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