THOSE WONDROUS WINGS
Our Views about Wing-clipping Our Starlings

NOTE: As owners of this website, we have chosen to share our experiences and opinions on these webpages. We present this info "as is", and we shall have no liablility to anyone regarding any circumstance or occurrence related to the starling(s) or other birds in their care. It is each starling owner's responsibility to make the best choices for the diet, safety, health, care and wellbeing of his or her own starling.

Contents:
The Importance of Flight for Starlings
Why We Do Not Wing-clip our Starlings
Our Flying Starlings (indoor flight only!)
Flightsuits during Free Flight
Links to Info about Birds and Flying


The Importance of Flight for Starlings next

A bird's body was designed for flight. Flight not only provides a bird with mobility, it also offers a bird physical benefits. It excercises and strengthens muscles, improves respiratory function, strengthens the heart, keeps the body in overall good shape. In addition, we believe the exercise that occurs during flight gives a pet bird a sense of wellbeing and results in a less stressed bird. Pet starlings who do not get enough exercise may develop problems such as obesity, loss of muscle mass, behavioral issues, and more. Despite this common knowledge, some "parrot behavior specialists" say that wing-clipping should be done on ALL pet birds in order to keep these birds "happy". Using such a statement in reference to European starlings reveals ignorance about this species.

Why We Do Not Wing-clip our Starlings top next



As mentioned above, we know that flight helps keep our starlings in good shape physically and emotionally. Below are several additional reasons we are very strongly opposed to wing-clipping Stormy, Sunshine, and Shadow.

We have found no facts or research proving that wing-clipping benefits a starling.
In fact, based on reasons given by some who wing-clip their starlings, we have come to suspect that clipping benefits the owners instead of the birds! Some pretexts we have gathered from starling owners who wing-clip include: "my bird is less trouble since I clipped its wings"; "my clipped starling is easier to put back in its cage"; "I don't have to chase it to catch it"; "it cannot fly onto my head or mess up my furniture anymore". Note that there was no mention of how their birds benefitted from having their mobility and independence taken away. (We have known of several pet starlings who appeared depressed after being wing-clipped and who refused to come out of their cages.)

Flight provides a starling with a means of defense.
The starling's main defense is its ability to fly and get out of a predator's way. Some other species of birds (such as woodpeckers, parrots, and others) have the ability to climb, giving them an added defense when in danger. Starlings do not climb and become generally grounded if wing-clipped.

To expound ....... starlings (and other birds in the order Passeriformes; often called "perching birds") have feet that are perfectly suited to perching. A starling's foot has three toes facing forward and one toe facing backward, and the hind toe allows these perching birds to securely grasp perch surfaces. However, this type of avian foot is not conducive to climbing. Some other types of birds (for example: parrots and other birds in the order Psittaciformes) have two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward. This type of foot enables these birds to climb very well, leaving them with some mobility if wing-clipped.

"Since starlings do not climb, flying is the only means they have of escaping dangers everywhere around them. A fully flighted starling has less chance of being stepped on in the home or being caught by a companion animal. Clipping a starling's wings leaves it defenseless and feeling vulnerable, and this could easily cause the bird severe mental stress as well as resulting in physical harm, regardless of arguments to the contrary by wing-clipping advocates!" - ( Jackie Collins, 2000)

A flighted starling can still be trained and handled.
Some starling owners promote wing-clipping simply for the purpose of making starlings "easier to work with" and more dependent on them. That is merely a cop-out, in our opinion. Although it may take more effort at times, we have no trouble working with our fully flighted starlings or having training sessions with them.

We realize that wing-clipping is a controversial issue, which is often debated among starling owners. This webpage was created to offer our personal point of view about the issue with regards to our own birds. Every starling owner must make his or her own decision whether to clip his or her bird's wings.

Our Flying Starlings top next



We give our starlings regular flight time out of their cages so that they can use their wings for the purpose they were intended and so they will stay in top physical shape. There is nothing quite like watching the enthusiasm with which a starling flies. Our birds revel in exercising their beautiful wings and in the freedom they have to fly back and forth to their favorite persons. When let out of their cages, they zoom around the room almost gleefully, circling, diving, darting, and even hovering at times. It thrills us to watch their enjoyment. We know that flight contributes to keeping them healthy, muscular, well-adjusted. There is absolutely no question that our own three starlings need and enjoy their indoor free flight times.

Keeping them safe when flying free. - Because starlings have a tendency to get into everything, a room must be checked for safety before a starling is let out in it. (Read our Common Household Dangers page.) When they are having free flight in the house, we supervise our starlings as we would a small toddler in our home, and we never leave them alone!

Why we DO NOT let our starlings fly outside. - We allow our starlings free flight indoors only. Our rescued starlings are "human imprinted birds", and such birds have little chance of surviving outdoors. We know of imprinted pet starlings who were injured, killed, or lost when their owners "let" them fly outside -- because these birds had no survival skills, several were caught by hawks or dogs, and others simply flew away in a panic and became lost, never to return. We choose to take no such risks with our birds, thus their free flight is restricted to inside our home.

 

Flightsuits/Bird Diapers during Free Flight top next



We have been asked about flightsuits recently. -- We do not put flightsuits (with bird diapers in them) on any of our birds. We realize that this product is widely advertised by pet stores and pet catalogs, and we even know people who have used them with hookbills. However, it is our opinion that flightsuits/bird diapers were created merely for the convenience of bird owners, and we have found NO evidence that such a product would positively benefit our birds.

In our home, our birds' free flight time is meant to be a time of freedom and enjoyment for them, not a time for them to dread being forced into flightsuits. We know our own starlings well enough to know that subjecting them to the discomfort and restrictiveness of wearing such a product would adversely affect their trust in us, would stress them to no end, and would raise the possibility of them developing injury or a health issue.

We cannot comprehend the mindset that "pet bird droppings are a problem that can only be solved by sticking a bird into a flightsuit with a diaper in it". Furthermore, we have no idea why anyone who is so offended by the thought of bird droppings in their home would even own a bird in the first place.

We have had birds for over three decades and have found a number of ways to easily deal with bird droppings in our home: We cover certain furniture with old sheets, use baby wipes (or similar products) to swipe up droppings, wear an old button down shirt over a regular shirt when birds are having "out of cage" time, wear a baseball cap or a hat to protect hair, vacuum/sweep floors daily to remove any droppings we missed, keep birds OUT of rooms that have our most expensive items in them, etc.

Starling owners who are repulsed by bird droppings are certainly free to choose to put flightsuits/diapers on their birds, however we choose not to promote the product on our website or encourage its use for pet starlings.


Links to Info about Birds and Flying top



If you are interested in learning more details about birds' wings and the dynamics of flight in birds, peruse the links below. Flight in birds is a fascinating subject!

Flapping Flight - How Birds Fly -- wonderful animations illustrating exactly 'how' birds fly.
Bird Flight -- Description and illustration of flight muscles and wing anatomy. Info about flapping flight.
Flight (at ornithology.com) --
Webpage filled with info detailing the dynamics of flight in birds Discusses soaring, flight control, landing, flight speed, and more.
Birds in Flight photographs -- Absolutely stunning collection of high quality photographs of various birds in flight. A MUST SEE webpage for bird enthusiast!



Starling Talk -- The most reliable starling care information online!



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