I have seen lots of people on the internet asking if it is ok to trim or cut a birds long tail feathers. The answer here is a definite no because your bird needs his tail to enable him to balance on his perch. Without a birds long tail feathers, the bird will be very wobbly and sometimes fall off his perch and hurt himself.
Bird tails are simply a bunch of long feathers that are controlled by muscles at the base of the tail. Birds shed all of their feathers once or twice a year, but they all grow back. Tail feathers have many uses for a bird, the main ones being flight and balance. Without tail feathers, birds are unlikely to be able to fly or land gracefully and are unable to turn mid-flight.
There’s more to a birds long tail feathers than meets the eye, as they are lighter and stiffer than the body feathers, and are just like the wing feathers to help them in flight. The difference between wing and flight feathers is that the wing has an off centre shaft and the tail feathers have a central shaft.
They also use their tails to balance themselves while they climb, whether it be up a tree or the side of the cage. If your bird doesn’t have tail feathers for any reason, make sure the perch is low down in the cage, as he is bound to fall off and hurt himself otherwise.
Did you know that when birds are attacked or frightened they can drop some of their tail feathers? This is called fright molt. This sometimes helps the bird get away, leaving the attacker with only a mouth or foot full of feathers. Luckily the tail feathers do grow back.
During courtship, the males like to fan out their tail feathers and show them off to their female counterparts.
Why can’t we just trim a birds long tail feathers?
Many people are tempted to trim a birds long tail feathers because they tend to get dirty and grotty looking from dragging around the bottom of the cage. Don’t be tempted, as you will do the bird more harm than good.
If you are worried about the tail getting dirty, try using a grid at the bottom of the cage, or if you use newspaper, then get the plain one, as sometimes the black ink tends to rub off on your birds tail.