How to Cut a Pigeon's Flight Feathers

Pigeons are not difficult to take care of on a daily basis.
Pigeons are not difficult to take care of on a daily basis. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Cutting a pigeons flight feathers is an effective way to keep it from flying off while you are training or caring for it. This does not cause pain since each feather sprouts from a pit in the bird's skin. Once the feather is fully grown, the pit seals and the feather dies. Cutting the feathers off is similar to a human having his hair cut. Removing the feathers in the proper way ensures the health and safety of your pigeon. They grow back typically within a year.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Small, sharp scissors
  • Pliers or hemostat (optional)
  • Styptic powder (optional)

Move the cage to a quiet, calm area to remove the pigeon's flight feathers. This helps the bird remain calm. Speak calmly and softly to the pigeon while cutting the feathers.

Ask an assistant to hold the pigeon in a towel with his thumb and index finger supporting the bird's head and neck and the other hand supporting the body. Think of the towel as a makeshift catcher's mitt -- do not hold the pigeon around its chest area -- this hampers its breathing and can be quite traumatic and even deadly Ask the assistant to hold the pigeon with its head and chest facing up.

Remove the towel wrapping on one side of the pigeon so you can extend its wing.

Look at the wing tip and move your eyes forward toward the pigeon's body. The first set of long feathers on the underside of the wing are flight feathers and are the ones that require cutting to prevent the pigeon from taking flight.

Observe the smaller, overlapping feathers above the flight feathers. These are on the top of the wing. This serves as a guideline to cut the flight feathers back.

Cut five to seven of the flight feathers back to the smaller, overlapping feathers. Do this one feather at a time. This leaves one or two long feathers on this wing to help the pigeon look less naked.

Cover this side of the bird with the towel and repeat the method on the other wing by cutting those flight feathers.

Praise the pigeon and give it a treat after the feather trimming is complete.

Tips & Warnings

  • Blood feathers have a blood vessel running through it and look pink and waxy. If you accidentally cut one, leave a long feather near it to help provide protection. Pull the blood feather out with a pair of pliers or a hemostat. Grasp the blood feather as near to the skin as possible and pull quickly while the assistant has equal pressure on the bird's body. If you do not remove the blood feather it will continue to bleed. Apply styptic powder and pressure to the area for a few minutes. Take the pigeon to an aviary veterinarian if the bleeding does not stop.
  • Do not trim only one wing of the pigeon. This prevents the pigeon from maintaining proper balance and being able to glide from its perch if it falls.

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