How Do I Cut and Care for My Pet Bird’s Feathers?

How Do I Cut and Care for My Pet Bird’s Feathers?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

I’ve combined several questions in this post, all related to feather care, you know those hundreds (thousands) of lighter than air floating things around your home, under the birdcage and on the floor.

Feathered factoid: small pet birds like budgies can have 4000 – 6000 feathers.

Larger parrots can have upwards of 8000 feathers (we count them coming out of the shop vac).

Waterbirds like ducks and swans have upwards of 10,000 feathers or more.


All birds molt, meaning they shed and replace all their feathers from twice a year to motling continuously for over 2 years (African grey parrots)

If you don’t like to vacuum, don’t get a bird.

Hey guys, want to do something sexy for your girl (or guy)?

Vacuum the house.


We hope the solutions offered (below) will help guide you in caring for the several thousand feathers that make your bird, a bird.

Lisa N. writes

My son’s parakeets wings aren’t growing the same length one wing has hardly grow at all so when he flies it’s very low and awkward he is about 20 months old


Will the other wing ever grow long enough to be the same length as the other one?


It’s cute the way he tries I’m just worried he will hurt himself.


He’s not afraid to fly from high heights.


Should we clip the flight feathers on the other wing so there even and see if they grow back at the same time?


Thank you from a loving concerned grandma.


Our son is working 12 hours a day so we have had him for a week now and it may be another 4 weeks.


If you want the bird to be flighted let nature take its course and leave the wing alone.

That said it’s important to introduce landing training starting now (they already know how to fly)

Train your bird to understand “landing zones”




How And Some Of The Why’s African Greys Molt Differently Than Other Parrots


Dorry R shares:

I’ve been to 4 different avian vets, each one had a different approach.


Each time my Jenday conure was traumatized.


The last vet seemed to be the least traumatic visit, but when my bird was startled and tried to fly he went down to the floor hard. No horizontal flight.


Thank you for all you do to help us, bird owners.


Hi Dorry,


We appreciate the kind words

When your bird’s primaries grow back next time, just do it yourself.

Learn to towel the bird for restraint.


You want to cut the outer 3 “Primaries” (see diagram below)

birds wings diagram

It’s best to take a little off at a time then check for “lift”


Rinse-repeat until there the bird exhibits a comfortable glide path.


This is a fairly good video on wing clipping.


Hope that helps




How Can Personal Lubricant Save Your Bird’s Feathers?


Darnell G. asks:

Could a bird’s wings be clipped to where they won’t grow out?


Just wondering cause I have one that way.


Dear Darnell


It can seem that way.


The only way they would be permanently unable to grow back is if the bird’s actual wings were cut, resulting in bleeding and great harm to the bird.


Not all birds feather molt out every year. Some do.


I would like to clarify by adding:

Unlike cut human hair, clipped wings don’t grow back.

They fall out during a molt and each and every feather is replaced symmetrically on the body 2 at a time.

Some birds molt twice a year others once a year and species like African grays can molt over a period of two years.


Not knowing your bird species is impossible to predict the rate your bird’s feathers will fall out and be replaced.




Is it Plucking, Molting or Over-preening? Why are those Feathers on the Cage Floor?


Gail B. asks:


I am wondering if a drop of salmon oil in water might be good for skin and feathers?


Hi Gail,

The only way to get oil and water to mix Gail is by a new process involving cooling a bath of oil containing a small amount of a surfactant (a soap-like substance), and then letting water vapor from the surrounding air condense onto the oil surface. 


Experiments have shown that this can produce tiny, uniform water droplets on the surface that then sink into the oil, and their size can be controlled by adjusting the proportion of surfactant. 


I personally think that process is a bit cumbersome so I would advocate that you take the salmon or coconut oil and drizzle it directly on their daily food.

Stay safe



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