How Nail Trimming Can Cause a Broken Wing
How Nail Trimming Can Cause a Broken Wing

How Nail Trimming Can Cause a Broken Wing

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

How many times have you watched in awe as a flighted bird hops off the top of it’s cage – flap flap flap then lands on an inch wide piece of ceiling crown molding or a computer monitor and in bird speak says “What’s up?”

Never giving a thought to that gravity thing that keeps the rest of us tethered to Mother Earth. These are special creatures indeed.


It’s been my observation that most caged bird keepers fail (sell, re-home or give to a rescue) because the birds are unable to adapt to the keepers expectations.

“She’s way messier than I thought.” “We’ll have none of that flying, we don’t want it to get hurt” and the heart of today’s topic “we gotta trim those nails Marlene, I can’t keep buying new sweaters”



It’s been a while since I’ve used the term “holistic” and I have been remiss.


If you read enough Facebook threads about birds you hear, you hear all the gushing caged bird keepers who extol the virtues of organic and holistic diets for our FIDS (Feather kids) as if the two terms were interchangeable.


One of the many definitions of the word holistic is characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. In other words looking at anything as a “whole”


What that means is that everything we do to our bird, ie clip it’s wings, or even cut it’s nails, impacts everything the bird does.


For example, once the bird’s wings are clipped you solve the (not) flying problem but create a balance problem. Ever see a downhill skier without poles?


Take away the poles (ends of the wings) and you can no longer feel where the ground is.


If you have a 5 foot tall cage and your clipped bird falls from a top interior perch for lack of balance, an injury may be sustained.


This is why flighted birds need different cage configurations than clipped birds. But that’s another story.


What triggered this topic was a call from a woman who had ordered a Jumbo (2 – 3 Inch diameter) manzanita perch for her Moluccan Cockatoo.


She called to return the perch because her bird kept slipping off. She went on to say the perch clearly was defective because her bird “never had this problem”


I patiently listed to her entire tirade including the part about “just getting back from the vet for a nail and wing trim and the bird was traumatized enough.”


When she finished, In my most “clerical” voice I said “ there may be a relationship to the shortened nails with blunt ends and her inability to grab onto a piece of wood equal to the diameter of her body, don’t you think?”

We have not heard from the customer since so I’m guessing as the nails grew, so did the birds ability to grab the new perch . which bring us to the moral of this story which is “every action taken with a bird impacts its ability to do – anything. I’m not saying don’t trim your bird’s nails. Just be cognizant of the “law of unintended consequences.”


Which brings us to the broken wing thing. Picture if you will your beloved bird after screaming bloody murder during the benign process (because you used our blood free electric nail trimmer) and as soon as the little darling popped out of the towel, she was fine.


You put her on the floor or a table. Being tired and hungry after the horrible nail trimming experience she retires to her cage.

You watch as she makes it up the bars of that beautiful six foot tall cage. About 3/4 of the way up she decided to rest on that new Jumbo (2 – 3 Inch diameter) manzanita perch  that after a few days of glares she’s now on for hours a day during the past month.

Then you watch it happen. She grabs the perch with her left foot and as her right foot releases from the cage bars, she, unable to grip the perch with the nail stubs, falls 4 feet flapping her wings trying to right herself.

The tip of a wing slips through a pair of bars and the end of the wing gets fractured in the process. ( Read Your bird Broke a Bone – Now What? to learn what your next actions should be).


As you see, grinding just 1/16 of an inch from 8 nails can and will put your bird at risk. Every time you modify a birds body, regardless of how little that “modification” seems, you retard it’s ability to function as nature intended.

You’ve been warned.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing


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