Parakeets are typically self-grooming, but if you've decided to keep Tweet's wings clipped, then clipping them regularly is a task you'll have to see to. Just like your dog's hair, your parakeet's feathers will grow back. Knowing how quickly clipped feathers grow back will help you schedule his next clipping.
Parakeets' feathers don't grow continuously. They grow out to a certain length and then stop. The feathers remain in place until they fall out during the birds' molt cycle. So the length of time it takes a parakeet's wings to grow back after clipping them isn't related to the clipping itself. Instead, full-length feathers will grow in the next time Tweet molts after his wings have been clipped.
Molting replaces your parakeet's old, worn out feathers with brand-new ones. The process is a gradual one in which new feathers slowly grow in, pushing the old feathers out of the follicles in Tweet's skin. The different feathers on your parakeet's body take different amounts of time to grow in fully, and the wing feathers that are typically clipped can take between four and six weeks to grow in after old feathers have been shed.
How often you'll have to clip Tweet's wings will depend on how often he molts, and that's where the process becomes imprecise. Different birds molt different numbers of time within a year, even within a species. BirdChannel.com points out that many things can affect when and how frequently a parakeet molts. Things such as the amount of daylight Tweet is exposed to each day, the nutrition he's getting, his health and his thyroid hormone levels all play parts in his molting schedule. As a guideline, the Association of Avian Veterinarians tells bird parents to plan on wing trimmings between two and four times each year.
To Clip or Not to Clip
Considering the slow growth of clipped wings, your role in their maintenance of won't take much time out of your schedule. Whether or not you keep them clipped is up to you. Talk to your vet to determine if it is the right course for you and your parakeet. Some people think their birds should keep their flight feathers, even if they're caged most of the time. However, clipping Tweet's wing feathers is a safety precaution that will keep him from flying out an open door or window, or into the ceiling fan. Have your vet or a professional groomer do the trimming, unless you've been trained in how to do it. A proper trim will avoid damaging blood feathers and will leave your parakeet able to glide to a lower spot from a higher perch without hurting himself.
- HealthyPet.com: Pet Bird Care, Part 2
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: General Husbandry of Caged Birds
- The Parakeet Handbook; Annette Wolter and Immanuel Bermelin
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images