by Heike Ewing Ott
There are many good reasons for keeping your bird’s wing feathers trimmed. This article shares true stories of accidents that have occurred to fully flighted birds.
WARNING: Some of these true stories are pretty gruesome; if you’re easily upset DON’T READ THEM! All of them are “local” stories that I heard from the owner of the bird.
A clipped tiel that had grown in a couple of feathers flew off and was never found after its young owner walked out into the garage to greet his returning parents, not knowing the garage door was still open.
A “clipped” Blue and Gold Macaw was on its owner’s shoulder when she answered the door. It flew out the door and was found three days later in a neighbor’s back yard, frozen solid.
A six-year-old sun conure that had never been clipped reacted badly to the scream of a visiting child and flew straight into a wall, instantly breaking its neck.
A young tiel whose wings I had clipped six weeks previously grew in just 2 feathers on each wing, flew out of its cage while the owner was changing its food, and flew out of an open window. It was found the next day, six miles away, at a convent where a nun fed it and called me from the ACS band. It was returned to its owners, who now carefully maintain the wing clip.
A severe macaw whose Mom had let it out to play suddenly flew out the door when Dad came home from work. They were still able to see the bird about 100 yds away when a hawk attacked it. The bird was recovered but had such severe injuries that it had to be put down.
A Quaker that had been free-flighted for 4 years ran into a cabinet door that was not usually open and fell into a pot of something cooking on the stove. It died before they could get it to the vet.
Two green-cheeked conures escaped from their cage and found a ceiling hole that let them into an adjoining store, where they were found dead from eating rat poison.
A clipped sun conure whose owner was playing with it on the bed prior to taking a bath left the bird for “just a minute” to answer the phone. When she returned, the bird was in the filled bathtub, apparently dead. She managed to resuscitate it, but it evidently has some brain damage and has never been the same since.
A lutino Indian Ringneck baby that was being hand-fed suddenly took off from the kitchen counter and flew into a ceiling fan that was operating. It lived, but broke both legs and one wing. After six weeks of special care, I placed this bird (given to me by the vet after the owners abandoned it) with an elderly lady who still has it today. It is slightly handicapped.
An African Gray escaped from its cage and let all of its owner’s other birds out of their cages. One parrotlet was killed and several other birds were injured, some by the Gray and some by flying into things in the home.
Misty the Quaker, formerly mine, was found to have escaped from her cage and was loose in the house when Jesse got home. No one can figure out what happened, but her entire upper beak was ripped off. She had surgery yesterday and it is hoped the beak will regrow under the appliance that was put on. **Update on Misty: Her upper beak did regrow and the appliance was permanently removed last week. She is fine now.
Last year as a friend of mine’s mother was sitting on her front porch, a Moluccan cockatoo approached her and begged for food. Having no experience with parrots, she was frightened, went inside, and called her daughter. When she and I arrived an hour later to search for the bird, we found it…in her neighbor’s yard, torn to pieces by a dog.
A Pacific parrotlet that had been allowed the “run” of its young owner’s bedroom for several months was missing when he came home from school one day. After a short search it was found dead under his nightstand, having chewed through the electrical cord to his alarm clock.
A sun conure was on its owner’s shoulder as she answered the door and flew out into the yard, where it was immediately snagged by a stray cat. Though barely scratched and immediately taken to a vet, it died two days later.
A cherry-head conure whose wing clip had “grown out a little” chewed a hole in the screen of an open window and escaped. It was never found.
A flighted young African Grey escaped at a bird fair, landing in the ceiling beams high above. As a ladder crew were attempting to retrieve it, it flew into a hanging electrical cord for the lights. Even the watchers weren’t sure exactly what happened, but it fell to the floor, dead.
A 2-yo Quaker, a beloved family pet, was blown off the owner’s shoulder by a strong gust of wind right in front of the door to the vet clinic where they were taking it for a routine exam. It was blown into the street and was immediately hit by a car whose horrified driver did not have time to avoid it.
And I’ve left out innumerable parakeet, lovebird, and finch stories. Is it enough? Will it ever be enough? Clipped birds that are locked in secure cages when not being supervised and are not allowed outdoors unless caged or restrained may not have all the “freedom” that some do, but they tend to stay alive and uninjured longer. I wish more people didn’t end up converted to my point of view only after the tragedy finally happens to them, and their beloved pet.