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Lift-offDuring the last years I have received many e-mails from Americans who clip their bird's wings and who accuse me of being wantonly negligent because I don't recommend trimming. Most supporter of wing clipping claim that flying around the room is too dangerous and many birds lose their lives while they explore their owner's house.

In fact there are many dangers in our surrounding which could be reasons for deadly accidents birds could get involved in. Therefore for example here in Germany which is my home country bird owners act with caution and look for sources of danger before letting their birds out of their cages. Once discovered, most sources of danger can be removed or eased.

You just have to try and see the world through a budgie's eyes. What is attractive? What makes a bird curious? What looks inviting to play with? Or what might be a good place to nest? To make things easier for you there is a list of typical sources of danger in this chapter:

  • Windows, glass doors and mirrors: They can be covered with curtains or pieces of cloth while the birds fly around. As you will see it is quite easy to prevent collisions by the aid of cloth/curtains. And you should always close doors and windows before you let your birds out of the cage!

  • Hot plates, water for rinsing, vapours, spices: The kitchen is a place where no budgie should be left unattended. Vapours from cooking can cause respiratory diseases or poisonings, also many spices are dangerous. Water for rinsing often is covered with foam which seems to be a solid surface a bird can land on. Many birds fall into the water, get scorched, poisoned by the dishwashing detergent or drown. Landing on a hot plate leads to life-threatening burns. So please never let your birds fly (or walk around) in your kitchen!

  • Open lavatories: Budgies are very curious and they will for sure try to drink from a lavatory if it is open. Because the porcelain is so slippery they can fall into the water and drown. Therefore lavatories should always be closed before a bird is let out of the cage. In fact it is recommended to close the bathroom door because not only the lavatory is a source of danger. Also cleaning agents, soaps, shampoos and other stuff might be poisonous.

  • Ashtrays and cigarettes: Tobacco is poisonous! When a budgie nibbles a cigarette the bird is in danger! Ashtrays and cigarettes should therefore be removed from the room where the birds are flying around. You should also be aware of the fact that the smoke of cigarettes causes severe damages to a bird's respiratory system which is far more sensitive than ours!

  • Vase of flowers, water pot, house plants: Vases are fairly attractive for budgies because particularly the hens are always looking for places to nest. When they tumble into the vase they can drown or just become stuck in an empty vase. Water pots are also very dangerous because birds could drown. A lot of house plants are poisonous. There are many sources on the internet where you can find lists of dangerous plants. Please check them and remove poisonous plants from the room(s) where your birds fly around.

  • Candles, scented oils (essential oils), air refreshers with fragrances: Burning candles are very dangerous because the hot wax and the flame can cause burns and also most dyes and fragrances are poisonous. The vapours of scented oils and other fragrances can cauterize the tongue, fauces, crop, stomach and respiratory system.

Free flightThis list is not complete; it should just give you an idea of what might be dangerous for your birds.

It seems as if there are too many dangers to make sure a bird can survive flying around in an average household. But in fact it is not so complicated at all. Since many years my birds enjoy flying all day long. In 1998 they got a safe bird room for themselves, but during the years before they used to fly in my living room all day long. None of my birds ever had an accident for example with a poisonous plant or a window because I removed all sources of danger and covered the windows with thin curtains.

To be honest two of my birds died because they broke their necks. Poor Tethys was playing on her cage when she didn't look where she was walking. She fell off a bar and crashed on her head. It was only 25 centimetres but it was enough to break her neck...

The other one who died in an accident was Maia. She was not able to fly very well - like a bird with clipped wings. One day she tried to fly from the floor to the windowsill where she wanted to land on. Her wings didn't carry her up there; instead she crashed into the undersurface of the windowsill. This collision was deadly. Deadly because she was not able to fly properly since her wing feathers were not able to carry her.

Those people who clip their bird's wings should keep this in mind: When a trimmed bird tries to fly this could end in a bad collision - like in Maias case. So clipping a bird's wings is no guarantee for more safety at all!

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