Member Login



Auto-login for future visits

Join or Renew Today!

Membership Benefits:

Close Button

Limited Wing Clipping and Teflon Safety

Expert Question

Dear Phoebe, I have two questions. Firstly I have a Hahn’s macaw (Einstein) and a Sun Conure (Gizmo), I stopped clipping their wings about a year ago. Gizmo doesn't fly much at all, but Einstein is becoming very handy with his wings and is able to maneuver around the house very well. The problem is about a week ago an Ibis flew past a window and frightened them, in a panic Einstein flew across the room so fast that he flew into the opposite wall (I would never have believed a parrot could fly so fast if I hadn’t seen it myself), luckily he was not injured, but I am concerned that if it happens again we may not be so lucky.

Is there a way to clip his wings to reduce his speed without having a huge effect on his maneuverability, or is there something else I could try to slow him down? I don't want to deprive him of flight unless it is absolutely necessary for his safety (and as soon as money allows I will be building an outdoor flight about 3m x 9m).

Second question. PTFE fumes. Are they only a problem with Teflon and similar coatings or are enamel and ceramic coatings also a problem? I recently found a ‘green pan’ that is ceramic coated and claims ‘no PTFE or PFOA’ and ‘no toxic fumes’, is this safe for birds, or is it better just to stick to good old stainless steel?

Thanks, Bruce

Expert Answer

Hi Bruce, We are so excited to get in on the flight action with you, Gizmo and Einstein. Bonnet (one of my wonderful avian companions) and I are also amidst flight explorations and we, like you, have had our share of lucky-and-we-don't-want-to-push-it experiences with parrots in flight in the house. So, we’re with you and we’ll be ready to fly in a moment.

First, good question on the pans. In order to keep it simple, I stay with stainless and well-seasoned cast iron pieces, then abide by simple reminders: use veggies and olive oil, avoid overcooking, and ventilate for clean cooking and air that’s parrot-healthy.

Our first question is for Gizmo, as in what’s up with the not flying very much, buddy? We’ve seen your cousins zoom around like gleaming banners crossing paths in mid-air and landing fast in order to turn tummy to sky for Sun Conuring. Bruce, as the human, you probably need to check in with Giz to see what kind of physical activities he'd like to check out to further his psittacine-physicality. Maybe Gizmo likes stretching -- what is his full range of motion? -- or big flapping hops from this cool place to a new cool parrot place. Bonnet says, think flock habitat expansion, Bruce -- parrots love habitat. Set up a great place for Gizmo to do his wing-beats and let's see what happens.

Einstein is indeed a genius and you must be super excited to be sharing space and consciousness with such an amazing parrot. Do you know that "Hanh’s" stands for "His Honor"? (I just made that up, but it seems right, doesn’t it?) Anyway, an Ibis flying across one’s fields of vision is a flap-worthy event, so Einstein was acting like a parrot when he took off in response. The wall is the problem, not Einstein’s wings. Bonnet wants to know, will you knock out the wall when you build the aviary?

In the meantime, survey the habitat as if from Einstein’s point of view, taking in to consideration the picture window and its often still-except-when-moving, sometimes surprising, views. As you see what he sees, wait a while, fit into that habitat, relax and try it on for size, Hahn’s size. Some changes to Einstein and Gizmo's environments will be obvious, and those you should make right away. Others will reveal themselves over time and yet others will be inspired by their increasing athleticism.

Bonnet and I also enjoy quiet moments together in front of windows especially when she gets to show me something humans might otherwise miss. You and Einstein can together experience lots of different interesting views, so put some time into looking.

Additionally, create more and more suitable parrot-specific landing places for your budding athletes. Table-top perches, a weighted basket on top of the refrigerator, a trusty chair back -- all are great. Bolt-worthy events will happen. When you and your parrots are all comfortable that there's a variety of safe landing spaces that all competently access, flight is no longer twisted with fright. 

All best, Phoebe and Bonnet

Phoebe Green Linden
About Phoebe Green Linden

In 1986, Phoebe married the love of her life, Harry Linden, at the place of her avicultural beginning, the Santa Barbara Bird Farm. 20 years of dedicated observations and avid learning have formed her opinions surrounding psittacine neonates, neophytes, fledglings and adults who benefit markedly from thoughtfully arranged environments. She and Harry include boxes, playgyms, cages, aviaries and agreed-upon furniture and counter surfaces for parrot activities. There are no spaces in their home or on their property untouched by parrot dander.

During the years they raised parrots for the pet trade (they no longer do, since 2001) and continuing through today, they have dedicated themselves to developing environments that increase observable natural behaviours such as exercising, interacting, foraging for foods, touching, preening, flapping, flying, showering, mulch-making, wild bird watching, helping with chores, and goofing off—not always seen in captive birds. Their experiences are happily shared with World Parrot Trust members with the objective to foster enrichment for captive psittacines and their caregivers.