Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL Flying: Parakeets
The above photo shows what healthy budgies/parakeets look like. They aren't clipped, they are flying skillfully and they are landing back on their owner (showing a bond).
I recently got a call from a client asking if I'd be interested in going out and purchasing him a parakeet and training it for 2 weeks so that it would be hand tame and fly around and come back (recall). I have been doing a lot of work with clients' birds lately and decided why not? I hadn't worked with someone's budgie in a while and it would make me devote a lot more time to my own so it sounded like a win-win situation.
I went to Petland to pick out a parakeet. My client's first choices were pure white, pure yellow or blue. Solid colors are harder to find but I spotted a solid white one but then looked closer...
The birds kept at Petland (along with all the other animals) are in aquarium looking things with no tops so that people can handle the animals. There are no signs where you have to wash your hands or sanitize, or even notes about not touching one kind of animal and then go to the next, and the next and the next... spreading numerous diseases.
As I watched the parakeets, they hardly moved around. At least two sat at the bottom looking puffy and unhealthy as they gathered themselves in a corner but separately and away from the other birds. A girl approached me who worked there and asked if I needed help. "I was looking for a parakeet." I said. "Are they all clipped?"
She looked at me surprised and kind of chuckled, "Yeah they are, of course." she said without a doubt. I stared at her in amazement. I think my expression said I hope you care to explain before I lecture the crap out of you.
She went on to say, "If we didn't they'd be able to fly." I stared more. "And they'd hit the glass and break their necks." she went on. "They grow back."
"I know they grow back. Does PetSmart clip their birds? I will go there." and I left, letting them know exactly who was taking their business. And I doubt they cared much about a $20 sale loss but I was peeved. Not that I expect every pet shop in the world to flight train their birds - and most people do want their bird clipped so it can't run away as they force it to be friends with them. But selling a bird and not giving the owner the opportunity to choose to be lazy and not train or not just isn't the best way in my eyes.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL On hand: Parakeets "Lexi", "Visa" & "Nikko" & Client's Yellow Bird (Unnamed)
Something about knowing that their resperatory systems don't even work at 100% without being in flight says something about clipping in itself. Like maybe it just isn't good for any bird. There are ALWAYS circumstances in people's lives where it is called for, but then goes the saying, "Don't choose a bird you think can fit well into your life, fit YOUR life into the bird's."
This means providing what they need for them and working around what they need most, not what you need most.
Recall/flight training budgies and parakeets is the same as it would be for the bigger birds so don't think it won't work for them just because they are smaller. They are FAST learners and love to be stimulated by learning so take a week and flight train your budgie to better its life, you will soon see how it betters yours.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.