Is Wing Clipping a Screaming Trigger?
Blue and yellow macaw parrot with clipped stretched wings on branch in bird park

Is Wing Clipping a Screaming Trigger?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Okay all you cage bird keepers whose birds have clipped wings, I can see all of you rolling your eyes from here. “What’s he up to now Virginia? How in the world can wing clipping and screaming be related?”

Today I have science on my side – and who can argue with science? From the blog “the Scorpion in the Frog… It’s in our nature” by Miss Behavior who’s real name is Sarah Jane Alger and she is a biologist

As a recent mother of twin girls, she found herself being accused of “nagging” due to the additional pressures motherhood had placed upon her. As a biologist, she knew that other species in the bird world vocalized in the form of “begging signals”

So some Spanish scientists trekked out to the forest in central Spain found 71 pied flycatcher nests and started observing them using flycatcher cams. They split a group of flycatchers all of whom had recently laid eggs, into two groups, clipping one group’s wings making them flightless. The other group of flycatchers got a trim job just to keep them going from not too far.

Pied fly catcher

 Pied flycatcher on nestling box perch

Guess what? The birds that couldn’t fly at all (because of the total lack of independence) became far more vocal and subsequently received more attention from the males who normally were concerned with doing their “guy bird” routines (forging for one, flirting with other flycatchers – you get the picture). We now know that at least with the species (pied flycatchers) their “nagging” is based on their need to keep the families as well as themselves, safe.

Circling back to my original question. What if…… because your bird knows it wings are clipped, it does feel needier than a bird who knows it can fly at any given time. And what if that neediness can only be communicated by the bird, through screaming (communicating). Just sayin’

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing


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