Parrots may take up to a year to revive their flight feathers and some like the larger macaws and cockatoos may already take up to two years before molting. Molting allows a bird to regrow any clipped feathers, but a clipped bird may have its feathers inclined to damage as its new blood feathers grow down.
These bold feathers need the protection of complete-length nearby feathers to avoid being damaged. When blood feathers are broken, the bleeding can be profuse and painful.
Most parrots have about ten dominant feathers that are attached to the “hand” and 12 secondary flight feathers along the “forearm”. The primaries are used for propulsion during takeoff, and they can be used as brakes with a reverse thrust action on landing and (with the tail) help in steering. The airfoil shape of these feathers provides free lift as air passes over them.
The rate at which the bird’s main wing and tail feathers grow is about 3 – 4 mm per day and some typical long dominant feather in a gray or Amazon can take about 40 days to grow down. The bird may molt two or three flight feathers at a time on each wing.
If a bird has been clipped, it is best to repair the wings quickly without delay especially for immature birds. This is important because these young birds require good and healthy wings to learn how to fly in their initial months, although they can be a bit clumsy at the start.
There are two ways to repair damaged feathers. You can either go to the avian vets who can repair the bird’s damaged feathers and quickly restore flight or follow the simple steps below by your own.
If you are intending to repair your bird’s feathers on your own, you can use the donor feathers from the same species to get it splinted (imped) back on, or remove the damaged feathers using anesthetic and allow it to regrow on its own.
To repair damaged feathers on your own, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Prepare a feather for imping onto a clipped bird’s wing.
Step 2: Remove part of the shaft of the donor feather.
Step 3: Prepare a small bamboo splint.
Step 4: Insert half of the splint and glue into the hollow shaft of the donor feather.
Step 5: Splint the donor feather onto the stump of a feather on the bird’s clipped wing.
If you wish to let the bird feathers to regrow by molting, instead of imping or pulling, it method that the bird may not be able to fly for up to a year. During this time there is also a risk of the bird damaging its blood feathers as they grow down.
This is something you must consider because it is important for a bird to take flight as part of their normal behavioral repertoire and exercise, and which you should encourage in order for them to be active and also to prevent other complicated problems such as frustration, anxiety, nervousness and self-plucking if this flight is denied of them.