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The size of flight feathers – Consequences

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Another article about the size of the wings. Mathilde Le Covec, ethologist, underlines the possible consequences of this practice.

The size of flight feathers is a matter of debate among bird owners. This practice is still widely used today. However, it generates serious physiological and psychological consequences.

3 misconceptions about the size of flight feathers

✗ It does not protect the bird

A bird, even a captive with cut feathers, will always keep the reflex to fly! The flight remains his main means of locomotion. So that will not prevent him from escaping. But his movements will be more awkward. As a result, he will be more likely to be injured indoors, and less likely to survive outdoors.

✗ It does not make it easier to tame it

When you prune a bird’s flight feathers, you can catch it more easily. The first times it is caught, the bird struggles a lot, then less and less. But that doesn’t mean he’s tamed either. This is called learned helplessness: the bird learns that it has no power over its environment. He then resigns himself and therefore ceases to struggle, since this does not change his situation. Learned helplessness is a great source of stress and discomfort. Trimming a bird’s flight feathers is therefore taking the risk of losing confidence.

It does not reduce aggressiveness

When an animal is faced with danger, its first instinct is always to flee. It is less dangerous and less expensive than attacking. In an attack, there is a risk of being injured or even killed. But a bird with cut feathers is very limited in its possibility of escape. What does he have left then? The attack … A bird with cut feathers can therefore become more aggressive.

2 negative consequences of feather size

➢ Physiological consequences

Birds are physiologically designed for flight. However, flying consumes a lot of energy. A bird that cannot express this behavior properly will therefore not get enough exercise. As a result, he is at risk of developing obesity and cardiovascular disease. These pathologies can lead to premature death.

The psychological consequences

In birds, flight is the best defense. A bird that cannot or can fly poorly will therefore not be able to react correctly in a dangerous situation. This will result in a feeling of helplessness generating a lot of stress. In humans, this feeling of helplessness in the face of danger can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. However, we have already observed, in birds in a situation of impotence, certain symptoms similar to this type of syndrome.

What the law says ?

According to article L214-1 of the rural code:

Any animal being a sentient being must be placed by its owner in conditions compatible with the biological requirements of its species.

But flying is a biological imperative for the vast majority of birds! Trimming flight feathers is therefore against the law.

Flying is a biological imperative for parrots. It is therefore fundamental that this behavior can be expressed as much as possible. The size of the wing feathers has dramatic consequences for the welfare of the bird.

References and sources of the article

Mathilde Le Covec, April 2021, Blog Dinosaures à plumes, article consulted on May 8, 2021. Available online: http://blog.dinosauresaplumes.fr/2021/04/30/la-taille-des-plumes-de-vol -consequences / # more-124

Biewener, AA, 2011. Muscle function in avian flight: achieving power and control. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366 (1570), pp. 1496-1506. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rstb.2010.0353

Dumont, ER, 2010. Bone density and the lightweight skeletons of birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1691), pp. 2193-2198. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2010.0117

Harrison, GJ and Lightfoot, T., 2005. Clinical Avian Medicine. Spix Publishing, p. 393. http://avianmedicine.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/12_cardiology.pdf

Peng, SJL, Chang, FC, Sheng-Ting, JI and Fei, ACY, 2013. Welfare assessment of flight-restrained captive birds: effects of inhibition of locomotion. The Thai Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 43 (2), p.235.

Seligman, MEP (1975). A series of books in psychology.Helplessness: On depression, development, and death. WH Freeman / Times Books / Henry Holt & Co.

Shimizu, T., Shinozuka, K., Uysal, AK and Kellogg, SL, 2017. The origins of the bird brain: multiple pulses of cerebral expansion in evolution. In Evolution of the Brain, Cognition, and Emotion in Vertebrates (pp. 35-57). Springer, Tokyo.

Strunk, A. and Wilson, GH, 2003. Avian cardiology. The veterinary clinics of North America. Exotic animal practice, 6 (1), pp. 1-28. https://www.vetexotic.theclinics.com/article/S1094- 9194 (02) 00031-2 / pdf

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology (third edition). Irby J. Lovette and John W. Fitzpatrick, editors. 2016.

Zanette, L. Y; Hobbs, EC; Witterick, LE; MacDougall-Shackleton, SA & Clinchy, M. (2019) “Predator-induced fear causes PTSD-like changes in the brains and behavior of wild animals”, Scientific Reports, 9

Article of law L214:

https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCode.do?idSectionTA=LEGISCTA000006152208&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006071367&dateTexte=20080531

An information nest © – June 2021

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