Cockatiel Injuries – Why You Shouldn’t Ring a Bird

ring a birdIs it good to ring a bird, and is it safe?

Here is why I don’t think it is a good idea to ring a bird, but I do know that in some cases it is unavoidable.

Please note that this article is based on my own opinion and I am not a bird breeder of any sort. Please feel free to decide for yourself whether or not it is wise to ring a bird.

 Also, this article may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase anything here, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you the buyer.

Birds have been ringed in Ireland and in Britain since 1909, and today over a million birds get rings every year, but why?

When the practice of ringing a bird was first established, the reason was mainly to study bird movements. Nowadays ringing is used mainly to study migration, dispersal and the study of population changes. This was done mainly with wild birds, but then it became common practice to ring domesticated birds as well.

The actual act of bird ringing can be tricky work. The necessary experience and skill is required so that birds do not become distressed. I would advise that only a professional attempt to do this delicate job.

There are two kinds of leg rings: open and closed. An open ring can be attached any time but it can also be removed, and therefore from a legal view it can’t be recognized as an official identification mark.

Bird rings have information on them specific to the bird like:

  • Serial Number
  • Year of Birth
  • Species
  • Condition
  • Location of Ringing
  • Breeder or Society Number
  • Country Code

So as you can see the leg bands help to identify a particular breeders stock and also establishes the age of the bird.

Some states require that pet birds be banded with closed traceable leg bands so that the origin of the bird can be determined in an effort to reduce the number of smuggled birds that are kept as pets in the United States.  Although this doesn’t apply to cockatiels as such, it is an indication of things to come in aviculture.

The only reason to ring a bird as far as I am concerned is that if the cockatiel escapes you may be able to get him back.

If you ring your bird it is best to get it done when it is still a chick, as older birds may have a problem getting used to the rings.

Although these leg bands are important ways of storing information about the bird, they can also cause injury to the cockatiel.

A skittish bird can mistakenly catch the leg band on a perch, the cage or even a frayed cage cover.   If the cockatiel’s leg gets trapped, it may become even more skittish and injure itself in the process of trying to free itself.   If the bird does injure its leg, the band can actually hamper the recovery of the leg by hampering the blood supply to the injured leg.

Most cockatiel’s do manage to wear their leg bands successfully for their entire lives without incident.  Nevertheless, you may want to discuss removing the leg band with your veterinarian.   If you do remove the leg band, remember to keep it in a safe place, so that if you ever need to prove that your cockatiel was domestically raised you can do so.   You will need to prove this if you relocate to a foreign country.

Funnily enough, I have never purchased a cockatiel that has a leg band.  In fact, I don’t see it much at all in South Africa.

How To Ring A Bird Or Cockatiel

If you have to ring your birds, this needs to be done when they are still in the nest and only a few days old. Try not to disturb the nest or parents too much.

Ringing with a closed ring can be carried out quite easily. Group the three longest toes together an slide the ring over these up the ball of the foot. Then with the small toe kept parallel and in contact with the leg behind, it should be possible to slide the ring over the toe and up the leg.

Never rush this procedure. If you are battling to get the ring over the last toe gently insert the blunt end of a matchstick to free the toe and enable the ring to move freely over the leg.

ring a bird

To Ring Or Not To Ring A Bird?

Let’s recap on some of the things to think about if you want to prevent bird injuries and accidents from happening especially when it comes to the question of whether or not to ring a bird.

There is a slight risk of the bird getting stuck if the ring hooks onto something in the cage.

Also if the leg gets an infection and swells for any reason the ring may obstruct the blood circulation and result in gangrene.

If the ring was fitted properly, there should be some spare space between the bird’s leg and the ring.

A lot of cockatiels and captive birds tend to suffer from broken limbs.  A lot of these accidents are caused by leg rings, believe it or not.  This is the main reason that I never ring my birds. However, I don’t breed cockatiels, so I, therefore, don’t feel the need to ring any of my birds.

Cockatiel accidents and injury tend to happen a lot when the cockatiel gets caught by the ring getting snared over projecting wire or other protrusions in the cage.

The avairy wire must, therefore, be well fastened down to avoid these and other unnecessary accidents and Injuries from occurring.  If possible and if not necessary, avoid ringing your bird altogether.

Imagine how many accidents and injury wild birds who have rings around their legs have to endure.  Some believe that banding or ringing birds may be the greatest cause of loss in some populations of wild birds.

If your cockatiel breaks its leg while wearing a ring, you will need to cut the ring off using a sharp pair of small nail clippers.  If you have nobody to help you do this rather take your bird to a veterinarian, or you may cause further damage.

Birds are extremely resistant to infection from open wounds.  Amputation should however never be used until it is proved that the limb is indeed dead and beyond repair.

For simple fractures, minimum support will be needed, sometimes no more than a transparent tape holding the injured body part and to prevent it from folding.  Splints made of matchsticks can be very harsh and cause ulcers on and even the death of the tissue.

Budgerigars in particular are prone to accidents and you need to keep a periodic check on your birds which are fitted with a closed band to ensure that the leg is not swelling around the ring. This can be quite serious an if it is not recognized early on, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove the ring. The task of removing a ring should only be done by an avian bet using specialist tools. It may be necessary to anesthetize the bird.

There are no known reasons as to why budgerigars are especially susceptible, nor indeed as to why this happens. It is more common in the case of birds which have been rung for some time, rather than those which have recently been fitted with rings. Funnily this happens more in birds that have been rung for some time rather than those which have recently been fitted with rings. Perhaps it could be a kind of allergy to the metal.

This article is my opinion but if you don’t really need to ring a bird, why put your pet at risk of injury?

Can You Purchase Rings In Bulk Online?

MEWTOGO 100 Pcs Bird Leg Rings- Colorful Numbered Bird Identification Leg Bands Poultry Leg Bands Clip on Leg Rings for Bantam Finch Dove Pigeons Lovebird Coturnix Quail (8mm)

Yes you can and these are just one example of open rings to ring a bird that can be purchased online.

The package includes 100 pigeon leg rings in five different colors.

They are 8mm in inner diameter.

These bird leg rings have a simple clip design and are very easy to apply and remove simply on your birds chicken and poultry. You can apply and remove our bird foot rings without any tools or scissors.

Are There Other Options Besides Ringing?

Luckily technology is developing fast and many parrots are now being micro chipped.

A tiny micro-chip with its unique code is implanted into the bird after fledging and this provides a permanent marker. It is activated when a reader is passed over the bird’s body.

Another means of identification is DNA sexing, and laboratories will retain a blood sample of a bird that has been tested. In the future, if the bird is stolen and recovered, it will be possible to prove its identity on the basis of a comparison between the stored DNA sample and a fresh sample.

While avian thefts have increased significantly over the years, this approach offers some hope in the battle against any crime of this type.

The above two methods have mainly been tested on the larger parrot species.


  1. I agree with what you talk about why you shouldn’t ring a bird. I have just had to take the ring off my female cockatiel. She is 4 yrs old and is sitting on eggs. Not fertile but I know you have to let them go through the process.

    Where she has been sitting the ring, which was on her when I purchased her, it’s like a coil, it was scraping off her skin above it. I was worried about infection as well. I managed to uncoil it and get it removed. There was no data on it, just plain. This process really upset her.

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