African Grey Parrots can climb up blinds or drapes and push their way through an opening.
They can also open doors and windows that aren’t tightly closed. To prevent escape, you will need to trim your bird’s wings. If improperly cut, a bird can still fly a short distance and up onto the roof or into a tree. If the wing feathers are trimmed correctly, the bird cannot fly away.
- sharp scissors or wire clippers
- an assistant
An assistant will need to hold your African Gray until the bird gets used to trimming. Lay the bird on it’s back on your assistant’s lap. The assistant cradles the bird’s head with one hand [the thumb beneath the lower beak and fingers over the skull] to restrain the bird from biting, if scared, and the other hand over the feet and tail feathers for comfort.
Stretch out the wing closest you to examine the feather growth. Quill feathers may appear pink or have a dark tint. These are “blood feathers” new feathers fed by blood vessels. Do not cut into the pink or dark tinted quills. In the event of an accidental cut, you will have to pluck a feather.
You may choose between three cuts: A primary cut prevents all flight, but the bird is left with unattractive wings when folded and the cut may prevent escape if a predator approaches. A second choice is a primary cut and the secondary and inner primary cut. A third, the primary and inner primary cut, which most bird owners choose, leaves the bird with an attractive appearance while discouraging flight [a few skilled birds may still have limited flight capability]. Never trim only one wing, this will leave your bird unbalanced. If you leave your African Gray unbalanced, the bird could fall and be injured. With each cut, you will trim approximately 1 inch from the skin.
To make the secondary and inner primary cut, hold the stretched wing in one hand and with the scissors or wire cutters, cut all but the outer four primary feathers [the long feathers at the tip of the wings] and all but the last three [nearest to the bird's body] inner primary feathers [the lower row of feathers]. Avoid the new growth of blood feathers. Repeat procedure on the second wing.
To make a primary cut, hold the stretched wing in one hand and with the scissors or wire cutters, cut the feathers on an upward angle from the lower straight row of inner primary feathers, taking off the tips of the primary feathers [the long feathers at the tips of the wings]. Avoid any new growth blood feathers. Turn the bird around in your assistant's lap and repeat the same procedure on the second wing.
An alternative secondary and inner primary cut can be achieved by cutting every other primary and secondary feather. Begin with the outer primary flight feathers, leave the outer primary flight feather, clip the next, leave the next, etc.
Maintain a flightless African Gray by checking for new feather growth and trimming on a regular basis.