Clipping Cockatiels Wings For Dummies

 Clipping cockatiel’s wings is an easy skill to learn, and it will save you a lot of money if you can learn how to do it yourself.

If you own a cockatiel, and you take him or her out of the cage a lot, it is essential that you keep the wings clipped, no matter how tame your bird seems.  You don’t want to take the risk of him flying away, and it could happen so easily, even to the tamest of birds.  All it takes is a sudden movement or loud noise, and your cockatiel could get a fright and fly away.

I used to take my cockatiel to the pet shop each time, as they clip cockatiel wings, and it cost about R30 a time, which is not a hell of a lot of money, but over time it can add up, and in time too. It also takes a lot of time to chase after a ‘flyaway’ cockatiel.  If you can learn the art of clipping cockatiel wings yourself, you can do it quickly and easily with very little stress to your little pet.

Remember, before you try to clip your bird’s wings on your own, make sure the first time you do this there is someone knowledgeable to help you and watch that you are doing the clipping thing correctly.

So How Do I Clip Cockatiel Wings?

The video above explains beautifully just how easy it is to clip cockatiel wings.

Bonus ‘Clipping Cockatiel Wings’ Tips

  1. Have someone help you hold your bird while you are trimming its wings. This will help ensure its safety.
  2. Make sure you have the right tools. Use sharp scissors or grooming shears to clip the feathers. Always sterilize the scissors with rubbing alcohol before and after use. The best scissors to use to clip a bird’s wings are blunt-edged veterinary scissors, trimmed to the appropriate size. It is important to remember that you should never attempt to clip a bird’s wings without the proper instruction, training, and experience. It is essential to have a veterinarian or an experienced bird groomer show you how to clip the wings properly in order to avoid any pain or trauma to the bird that can result from an improper trim.
  3. Start by trimming the primary feathers, which are the longest feathers along the tips of the wings. Only remove a few feathers or the flight feathers at the tips of the wings. It is not necessary to remove all of the feathers from the wings.
  4. Be careful not to cut the shaft. This is the outer part of the feathers. It is connected to the bird’s skin and it is important not to cut it.
  5. Trim the feathers evenly on both wings. Make sure to not clip too close to the body of the bird.
  6. Be aware of the bird’s stress level during the process, and take your time and talk calmly to your cockatiel.
  7. After clipping the wings, pay attention to your bird for a few minutes to make sure it is not in distress.

clip cockatiel wings

Some Important Notes When Clipping Cockatiel’s Wings

The best time of day to clip a bird’s wings is early in the morning before the bird has had a chance to become alert and active. If the bird is handled and clipped in the morning, it is more likely to remain calm during the procedure.

Most species of birds do not enjoy having their wings clipped. This is only done to prevent the bird from flying away, but it can be stressful for the bird and may cause them discomfort. You need to make the process as stress-free for your cockatiel as you can.

The trick is not to trim too much off of your bird’s wings, as you need him to still be able to land safely if he falls or decides to take flight, but you want to clip enough off so that he doesn’t head off into the skies.

Do not clip the wings of very young cockatiels before they attain motor skills and know-how.  Otherwise, they will not learn to land and can hurt themselves or break their tail feathers when landing.

When clipping a cockatiel’s wings, be sure to do a symmetrical job, trimming both wings an equal amount. Your cockatiel not only will look good but, more importantly, will be balanced when it flies or sails along. You don’t want to make your pet clumsy.

Never clip more than 10 primary feathers, but keep in mind that the fewer you trim, the higher the bird will be able to fly.

Be very careful not to cut too high up on the feathers, or you could hit a blood feather which will cause the bird to bleed.  If this happens you will need to pull out the entire feather or take the bird to the vet.  Any feathers encased in a white sheath are blood feathers.  Do not cut these.

When clipping his wings, make sure to use sharp scissors.  Hold the bird’s head between your index and middle fingers to prevent him from biting you.  Gently but firmly open his wing and work from the outside in.


  1. I always wondered how to do this! What a wonderfully comprehensive article! Thank you so much for the information. I didn’t realize that clipping a bird’s wings too young could be an issue, so I really appreciate you pointing that out. I knew there were blood feathers to look out for, but I didn’t know that they were white, that is really helpful. The video really helped too. Thanks again!

  2. I learned something new by reading this article on how to clip cockatiels feathers and by watching the video. Firstly, I knew their wings had to be cut to keep them from flying away. It’s for their own safety because domesticated birds cannot fend for themselves outside the house. What I didn’t know was how easy it is to cut their wings. After watching this video I don’t understand how anyone could harm them when cutting their wings. It looks as easy as trimming a dog’s nails.

    Thanks for providing an informative post and video. I don’t have a cockatiel but I have friends who do. I will share this information with them.

  3. I do not own a cockatiel, but if I or someone I know who is in the market for one should deff check out your site if they are concerned about the time and money they will have to spend to clip the wings on their bird. Very easy site to follow and navigate through.

  4. Wow! Great information. I always knew that birds need to have clipped wings but I had no idea how it was done. It was also very interesting to learn that you shouldn’t clip the wings of a younger bird because it needs to learn how to land. Very interesting article.Thank you for the new information and this well written article. I truly did learn something new today.

  5. You are correct while it doesn’t cost a lot to clip the wings of your bird, it does add up over time. It is very simple to do. I had a pide cockatiel and after the first few times of taking him to the pet store I just asked them how to do it. They showed me and it made life much easier.
    Great tips.

  6. Hi Michel,
    I had no idea that you even clipped cockatiels’ wings! I am an animal lover, so found this really fascinating and the video did explain it beautifully. I like that you’ve given some points below it, to highlight further what is right and wrong. This is a great article for all the bird lovers out there. Do cockatiels try and scratch you during the trimming process?

    1. They do try yes, and wiggle a lot,as they don’t like to be held in this manner. Thanks for dropping by Mara.

  7. I trimmed my cockatiel wings twice and he can still fly. Are the flight wings the small ones on the inside or the big ones on the outside?

    1. They are very light, so you normally have to cut off quite a bit. I normally only do the one wing and I do the flight feathers on the outside as well as a few little ones on the inside. If you are worried about how the cockatiel will look, leave one or two of the long ones on the outside and cut off the rest. Don’t cut them too short or they will bleed.

  8. Was very interesting. I was wondering how to hold their head. Thank you and I’m going to give it a try. You explain
    everything so well

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