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 breeder of any sort. Please feel free to decide for yourself whether or not it is wise to ring a bird.

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.

To Ring Or Not To Ring A Bird?

Let’s recap on some of the things to think about if you want to prevent cockatiel 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 cockatiels 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.ring a bird

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.

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

On a lighter note, click here to view some funny cockatiel videos.


  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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