In the avian world, feather trimming is a rather polarizing topic. Some bird enthusiasts are big on clipping, while others aren't at all fans of it. Either way, one thing is clear, and that's that cockatoos' feathers, just like human hair, generally grows back -- phew.
Comparable to People Hair
Clipping a cockatoo's feathers is not too different from cutting a person's hair or trimming a Lhasa apso. Not only does the trimming procedure -- if performed properly -- not hurt the bird at all, the trimmed plumage also comes back, with a little bit of patience and time.
Feather trimming isn't the only factor that affects cockatoos' feathers. Molting is a normal avian "shedding" process that involves the change from old feathers into new ones. This change is a gradual one, and can sometimes take upwards of months. Note, too, that pet birds are often extremely frustrated during times of molting. Replenishing their feathers can be extremely physically taxing, after all. If your usually uber-affectionate cockatoo acts a little more aloof or agitated during molting, don't be surprised.
The trimming of feathers doesn't leave any permanent effect on cockatoos. Once these birds re-enter the molting process, the clipped feathers return in fine form -- as long as before. This doesn't happen overnight, however. Depending on how often your cockatoo molts, it could be anywhere between 6 and 12 months before his feathers are back in their finest form.
If you're contemplating clipping the feathers on your cockatoo's wings, you don't have to worry that they won't ever come back. However, it's always smart to evaluate the pros and cons of any situation. Birds with clipped flight feathers, for one, cannot move as rapidly as their untrimmed counterparts. If you have other pets in your home, this could prove frustrating for your cockatoo. If your dog runs after your cockatoo, the trimmed feathers could stop the poor bird from easily getting away from him. On the other hand, flying a little slower can also prevent your cockatoo from getting into hazardous situations throughout your home -- say swiftly colliding into your living room wall. If you have any specific concerns regarding your cockatoo and whether or not to trim his wings, don't hesitate to start a dialogue with your avian veterinarian.