Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Clipping wings
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 16 August 2015
In Response To: Clipping wings (Victoria)

Hi Victoria:

No matter how long swans or other birds are raised in an area, if they can fly, they will fly in order to explore other areas. When they fly, they can get lost or be attacked by predators and not be able or want to return to your area. This is why they must be prevented from flying. But, once swans or other birds are rendered unable to fly, they must be brought indoors at night like you are doing so that predators cannot kill them.

There is no such thing as wing clipping. The swans are either going to be pinioned (a portion of the wing is surgically amputated at 1-3 weeks of age) so that the birds cannot fly or feathers clipped.

The pinioning procedure is conducted at a very young age because it is easier on the bird as soft tissue, bone and nerves are not developed. Only one wing is pinioned otherwise, the bird can circumvent the pinioning and still gain some flight. This procedure should be conducted by a licensed veterinarian.

Once the birds are older than 1-3 weeks of age, they can be pinioned, but the surgical procedure must be performed by a licensed veterinarian experienced in waterfowl/birds and the pinioning process. Anesthesia must also be used on any bird after 1-3 weeks of age. The amputation procedure is extremely difficult on older birds and any bird may not survive the anesthesia which is why 1-3 weeks of age is the suggested age for use without anesthesia.

If you do not want to risk the pinioning/anesthesia process, then you can have the feathers clipped. We believe that this is the process that you might be referring.

Again, using a licensed veterinarian to show you the procedure, the flight feathers of one wing can be clipped avoiding blood feathers which can cause the swans to lose a great amount of blood. By clipping back the flight feathers, every 3 months, the swans will not be able to fly.

Some veterinarians and other swan keepers state that the procedure needs to be completed every 6 months. However, if you are not paying attention, some birds can grow the feathers back quicker and will be able to fly before you know it. We suggest that you mark on your calendar every 3 months to ensure that the birds don't accidently grow flight feathers and leave before you can intervene. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Clipping wings -- Victoria -- 15 August 2015
Re: Clipping wings -- The Regal Swan -- 16 August 2015