Clipping Cockatiels Wings For Dummies

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

If you own a cockatiel, and you take him out of his cage a lot, it is essential that you keep his wings clipped, no matter how tame he 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, as well as the time it takes chasing after a runaway cockatiel.  If you can learn to do it yourself, you can do it quickly and easily with very little stress to your little pet.


So How Do I Clip Cockatiel Wings?

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

clip cockatiel wings

Some Important Notes When Clipping Cockatiels Wings

The trick is not to trim too much off of your birds 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.  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 birds 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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