How to Cut Blue & Gold Macaw Bird Wings

Clipping your macaw's wings prevents injuries and possibly even death.
Clipping your macaw's wings prevents injuries and possibly even death. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Blue and gold macaws bond with their human companions and enjoy time spent outside of their cages. However, the world may be a hazardous place for macaws. If they fly out an open door or window, the outdoors may prove to be dangerous and deadly. An accidental indoor flight into a window or mirror may cause a broken neck or other injury, or even immediate death. Clipping your macaw's wings prevents flying and the dangers associated with it.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Cat claw scissors
  • Styptic powder
  • Treats

Place your macaw into a towel, wrapping the towel around the bird. If your bird is fearful or prone to resentment, cover its head lightly with a corner of the towel. Do not wrap the macaw so tightly that it is injured or too loosely that it struggles and injures itself. Have an assistant hold the towel-wrapped macaw for you, keeping it as still as possible.

Remove one wing from the towel, gently stretching it to its full expanse. Remember, the bird may struggle during this process, and a struggling bird can easily injure an outstretched wing. Act as quickly as possible to prevent injury, but do not act so quickly that you become sloppy and cause an injury.

Examine the wing for blood feathers, which are feathers that are not fully developed and still carry a steady blood supply in the shaft. The shaft of these feathers resembles a black or blue ink pen cartridge. Clipping a blood feather is painful for birds and results in bleeding.

Working from the underside of the wing, clip the first six to 10 feathers closest to the wing tip. These are the flight feathers, or the feathers used to gain lift during flight. With these clipped away, the macaw is able to glide and flutter, but not fly at full force. Using cat claw scissors, clip the feathers as close to the base of the feather as possible without clipping shorter nearby feathers or accidentally clipping the actual shaft of the feather.

Repeat Steps 2 to 4 with the macaw's other wing.

Remove the towel from the macaw and place it on a comfortable perch or back in its cage to recover from the stress of the situation. Offer it plenty of praise and a few treats as comfort and reassurance.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you feel uncomfortable clipping your macaw's wings, take it to a professional and watch the process, or have a professional walk you through the process before you attempt it on your own.
  • Use a styptic powder such as Kwik Stop to stop any bleeding if a blood feather is accidentally clipped.
  • Play with your macaw in a towel on a regular basis to help ease any fear and discomfort while it is wrapped in a towel during the wing-clipping process.

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