The Facts on Fully Flighted Budgies

“Fully flighted” doesn’t just mean unclipped! Learn more about what it means for a budgie to be fully flighted.

When discussions of wing clipping arise, it’s hard to avoid controversy from both people who clip and those who don’t. Scientifically, there are many reasons to keep a bird fully flighted. This issue is discussed at length in our article on wing clipping.

However, there’s far more to the wing clipping conversation than “should I” or “shouldn’t I.” An unclipped bird isn’t automatically considered fully flighted! Below, we’ll go over 5 key points about fully flighted budgies that all owners should consider.


1.) Flight requires more than simply being unclipped.

Without proper husbandry, even unclipped budgies can struggle to fly.

A fully flighted bird should have control of their flight patterns, be able to take off and land with intention, and be capable of turning, ascending, and descending. They should recognize flight as a main, if not preferred, method of transportation assuming space permits. Many budgies are raised in small spaces and not given the chance to practice their flight skills as a fledglings. This means their flight skills are going to take some practice and some work! 

Give them time in a safe, parrot-proofed space with well-placed perch systems to let them practice their skills and truly have control over their flight. 

2.) Not clipping doesn’t guarantee a good quality of life.

Choosing not to clip is just one consideration of many when it comes to providing your budgie with a good life.

Not clipping your budgie’s wings isn’t about being fashionable or “with the times.” It’s a husbandry choice made with intention based on the most recent scientific evidence. Just because an owner is “anti-clipping” doesn’t automatically mean their bird is receiving a high amount of stimulation, exercise, and enrichment. In fact, a clipped budgie that is receiving these things, in addition to a high quality diet, likely has a better quality of life than an unclipped budgie living in subpar conditions, being fed a poor diet, housed in a tiny cage they never get to leave.


3.) Flight needs to be learned.

Budgies are born capable of flight because of their physiology, but baby birds do not just fledge out of the nest as highly skilled aviators.

Budgies develop their skills over time as they spend time on the wing, learning to maneuver around different obstacles and spaces. An adult budgie that has spent its life in a small cage will have worse flight skills than a young budgie who has many hours of experience on the wing.

4.) Fledging is a crucial period in life.

There is an important early learning window in which young budgies learn to fly.

When budgies fledge, they have an instinct to flap in order to strengthen their muscles and learn to coordinate their flying. This is a crucial learning period in their life where they discover that their wings can provide them with lift, act as their main means of transportation, and allow them to escape from danger. Unfortunately, this is also when most budgies get clipped. 

Fortunately, budgies tend to recover fairly well from being clipped, even when they’ve been clipped for many years or have remained cagebound for many years. Budgies who learn to fly later on in life never quite get the same level of skills as a budgie who has been given the chance to fly from a young age but they will be able to transport themselves from A to B safely enough. 

5.) Flight is more than a few flaps.

A truly fully flighted budgie should be capable of many maneuvers on the wing.

At minimum, fully flighted budgies should be able to ascend, descend, bank, and U-turn on the wing to be considered functional at a basic level. A bird that only flies frantically when spooked and crashes from panic and lack of control is not a functional flyer.


Wrapping up

If you still have questions about wing clipping and the many impacts it can have on a budgie’s health and behavior, this article goes over the basic facts (backed up, of course, with recent science).


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