Clipping a parakeet's wings is a topic of great debate. It is a common belief that clipping a parakeet's wings will keep it safe, as it cannot fly and harm itself. This is a misconception. The parakeet will regrow flight feathers that have been clipped. Therefore, the need for clipping the wings does not exist. If an owner desires a clipped bird, there are particular times to clip the flight wings.
The wings and feathers of the parakeet serve different purposes. The wings have short and long feathers. The short feathers are used for gliding and will cause harm to the bird if they are clipped. The long feathers are used for leverage and steering. After the long feathers are clipped, the bird will glide but will not be able to gain leverage.
Parakeets establish dominance in the wild, choosing a flock leader. If the human does not establish this role, the parakeet will choose another bird, or even themselves, to be dominant. A dominant bird is an unruly bird who is difficult to train. Some wing clipping advocates believe clipping the parakeet's wings establishes dominance, as the bird cannot soar above the human where the bird views himself as the "better" or dominant species.
When clipping a parakeet's wings, the owner needs to make sure only the flight wings are clipped. The shorter wings contain cartilage and joints that help the bird move the appendage. Cutting them will harm the bird. Clipping the longer wings, however, is akin to cutting human hair. It does not harm the bird. If an owner cannot find the line between short and long wings, a professional should be consulted.
A parakeet will only need its wings clipped once. After the wing clipping, the parakeet will need to remain in an enclosure, as he may not fly correctly after clipping. Socialize with the bird so he does not grow bored and loud, but make sure he can glide before letting him out of his enclosure after the clipping.