Do Birds Feel When Their Wings Are Clipped? Negative Emotions in Birds



  • Birds can feel when you clip their wings. The signs of stress are most commonly observed during wings clipping.
  • Clipping or trimming of feathers of birds near the skin, bones or nerve endings may cause pain for them.
  • Psychological or behavioral issues may develop in birds during wings clipping.
  • Wing clipping is a safe and humane way if done rightly. It helps to prevent birds from flying away and getting lost or injured.

Wing clipping is a common practice in the bird world. It is often considered a humane way to keep birds healthy.

However, some questions need answering regarding wing clipping: Do birds feel when their wings are clipped? What feelings do they have? Do they even think about those feelings at all?

It is essential to know what your pet bird is thinking. If you don’t know how it feels about this procedure, you might end up doing something that hurts her for no reason.

This article will discuss birds’ feelings during and after wings clipping.

Breaking a blood feather is painful and distressing. If the blood flow does not stop within 15 minutes, an emergency trip to a qualified avian veterinarian will be required. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Do Birds Feel When Their Wings Are Clipped? Yes they do

Yes, birds have feelings when their wings are clipped. Birds don’t feel pain when their wings are clipped. However, they do experience anxiety and stress due to wings clipping.

Wing clipping in birds causes stress - Do birds feel when their wings are clipped

When a bird’s wings get clipped, it causes a lot of stress for them, even if a veterinarian does the procedure. The bird will become scared and try to fly away from the person clipping its wings. It will also be disoriented because it doesn’t know where it is going or what’s happening to it.

It can cause the bird to panic and even snap at people trying to help it calm down. Thus, birds feel stress and anxiety during the clipping of wings.

Do Birds Feel Pain in their Feathers? Sensory Organs

There are no nerve endings in the primary feathers of birds. Birds’ feathers are composed of dead cells. Therefore, the birds don’t feel pain if there is any injury in the feather.

However, secondary feathers are connected to the skin where nerve endings are present. When birds’ feathers are plucked, they feel pain due to stress on nerve endings. The pain stimulus reaches the pain receptors. So birds will feel pain in their wings.

It is similar to human hair. When our hair gets damaged, we don’t feel pain in them. While if hairs are pulled, it causes pain.

F. Barbara Orlans wrote in the Name of Science: Issues in Responsible Animal Experimentation:

“Most birds show little evidence of pain or discomfort from punctures and incisions over much of the body, but exceptions are the head and beak, scaled portions of the legs, and the vent area. Also, pinching or pulling of the skin is painful.”

What Feelings Do Birds Have When Their Wings Are Clipped?

Birds have a lot of feelings. They mourn the death of their parents. They sing songs and make nests. Birds also experience joy, love and sadness. But here is the question what feelings do they have when their wings are clipped?

Here are some feelings that birds have when their wings are clipped.

1. Do Birds Feel Pain When Wings are Clipped?

Some people believe that birds don’t feel pain when their wings are clipped because they aren’t human. But birds feel pain too.

If you clip or trim the feather of birds near the skin, bones or nerve endings, it will cause pain. Therefore, it is necessary to cut the wings carefully. Avoid wings clipping near the base.

If you are not an expert in this procedure, don’t hurt the bird. Otherwise, it will be painful for birds to get their wings clipped.

2. Do Birds Feel Stress and Anxiety When Wings are Clipped?

Research has also shown that birds feel stress and anxiety after the procedure of wings clipping.

When a bird’s wings are clipped, it cannot fly. They can still use their wings to flap and move around. But without the freedom of flight, many birds become depressed and stressed. This is especially the case with songbirds, which have a very delicate nervous system and are easily affected by stress.

Some birds will even try to run away from their handlers after their wings have been clipped. This behavior is often seen in parrots but can also be seen in other species such as lorikeets and cockatiels.

Bird’s Behavior After Wing Clipping Stressful Birds

After a bird’s wings are clipped, the bird will no longer be able to fly. This can cause the bird to behave differently in several ways. Due to wings clipping, psychological or behavioral issues may develop in birds.

For instance, the bird may become more tame and docile, or it may become aggressive. Some birds may also start to pluck feathers due to boredom or stress. They struggle to fly. When they cannot fly, they feel stress and anxiety.

Psychological and behavioral issues in birds arise due to wings clipping

While wing clipping is a common practice in bird ownership, it is important to remember that it can significantly affect the bird’s behavior. If you are considering clipping your bird’s wings, do your research and talk to a qualified avian veterinarian first.

Do Birds Bleed When You Clip Their Wings? Careful Procedure

Birds have a lot of feathers, and some of these feathers have blood vessels running through them. These feathers with blood vessels are known as blood or secondary feathers.

Cutting the primary feathers from the edge doesn’t hurt the bird. However, if the secondary feather is cut, birds will bleed.

Clipping a bird’s wings may cut through these blood vessels, causing the bird to bleed. Therefore, don’t clip a bird’s feathers if you don’t have a good idea about it. Otherwise, you will end up hurting the bird.

Do Cockatiels Get Sad When You Clip Their Wings?

Sometimes cockatiels may get depressed or sad when their wings are clipped, especially if it is the first time. If the bird is sad due to wing clipping, it stops eating.

Liz Wilson, an Avian behaviorist, says you should not perform wings clipped by yourself. Call the vet to clip the cockatiels wing. There are two reasons behind this recommendation.

  1. Vets are practically experienced and ensure not to hurt the bird. They will examine the bird after clipping.
  2.  Cockatiels hold grudges. If the vet cuts the wing, the cockatiel will not be aggressive or angry with you.

The bird will take some time to adjust after the wings clipping. Some birds adapt entirely within one day, while others require weeks to forget. If a bird gets depressed after wing clipping, give it proper time.

Is it Humane to Clip Wings?

Some people believe it is cruel to clip a bird’s wings because it causes them to bleed. However, if done correctly, wing clipping is a safe and humane way to prevent birds from flying away and getting lost or injured.

Wings clipping is safe until it is performed adequately

It is crucial to consider the needs of the individual bird and the potential risks of not clipping its wings. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to clip wings should be made based on the individual.


Wing clipping is a procedure performed all over the world. Some people consider it cruel, while others consider protecting birds essential. But the main concern should be the birds’ safety, either with or without wings. So, before wings clipping, health and safety should be kept in mind.

Do you perform wing clipping of your birds? What is your opinion on wing clipping? Please share with us through comments.


  1. Feather Clipping: Unnecessary and Unkind by People for the ethical treatment of animals (PETA)
  2. Grant, Rachel A., V. Tamara Montrose, and Alison P. Wills. “ExNOTic: Should we be keeping exotic pets?.” Animals 7.6 (2017): 47.
  3. Orlans, F. B. (1993). In the name of science: Issues in responsible animal experimentation. Oxford University Press.
  4. Zollinger, S. A., & Brumm, H. (2015). Why birds sing loud songs and why they sometimes don’t. Animal Behaviour, 105, 289-295.
  5. Hawkins, P. (2010). The welfare implications of housing captive wild and domesticated birds. In The welfare of domestic fowl and other captive birds (pp. 53-102). Springer, Dordrecht.
  6. Gaskins, L. A., & Hungerford, L. (2014). Nonmedical factors associated with feather picking in pet psittacine birds. Journal of avian medicine and surgery, 109-117.

Leave a Comment