A Pot Of Trouble For Unclipped Bird

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - November 25, 2009
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Domestication has changed animals in profound ways. Many of our pets would not do well in the wild because of the physical characteristics bred into them by us humans. For example, dogs with short legs, floppy ears and a thick, fluffy coat (regardless of the season) would do poorly on the plains of Africa. Besides tinkering with physical characteristics, we also breed in behaviors that would put pets at a disadvantage. Behaviors such as friendliness in rabbits make them great companions for their owners, but could also make them an easy meal for any predator that wandered too close.

There are some characteristics, however, that still haven’t changed. Knowing our pets’ abilities and traits, we as caretakers need to be aware of potential dangers in our environment.

The following is a true story, although the names and feathery faces have been changed to protect the innocent. Sorry, I like the dramatic intro.


Chippy, a 5-year-old parakeet, came into our hospital for a physical exam and a wing trim. Wing trims are often necessary to prevent unwanted trauma to our feathered friends. Too often we see patients that have flown into windows, ceiling fans or have accidentally escaped out into the concrete jungle. While escaping out the window and gaining freedom doesn’t sound so bad, we have to remember that many birds are hand-raised and would probably go hungry without a nice bowl of food provided for them. On the flip side, the reason to keep a bird fully feathered is so that it can fly and exercise as nature designed it to. Therein lays the dilemma.

As I examined Chippy, the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Ching, watched closely as if anticipating something awful. I was careful not to reveal much through my expressions, for I felt as though a casual raised eyebrow may cause one of the Chings to faint. Sensing this uneasiness and wanting to break the tension, I asked them if there were any specific concerns.

“Well, Doc, we haven’t clipped Chippy’s wings for a while and he has access to all parts of the house. We felt that flying was good exercise for him.”

I nodded in agreement and had a feeling that a “but” was soon at hand.

“Anyway, last night was quite cold and my wife and I were hungry for saimin. To make a long story short, Chippy flew into the boiling pot of noodles. It was a good thing that my wife was there since she immediately scooped Chippy out of the pot. We rinsed him with cool water and put him back in his cage. He seemed all right, so we made an appointment to see you this morning. Doc, is our little Chipster OK?”


Aha, that’s what the anxiety was all about.

I replied, “I did notice a mild redness to the skin and scales that covered his legs. Other than that, he seems just fine. I think his accident left him relatively unscathed.”

The Chings were relieved to hear this news and rededicated their commitment to trimming Chippy’s wings regularly to prevent any future mishaps.

As I mentioned earlier, our lovable pets are many times a victim of circumstance. Wild parakeets don’t have to worry about a boiling pot of saimin. Yes, they could be a meal for a nearby predator, but (I might be going out on a limb here) death by saimin is very rare. I was curious as to whether the Chings ate the saimin after the daring rescue but decided to forgo my curiosity.

I prefer char siu in my bowl of noodles, but that’s just how I roll on The Wild Side.

Pet Tip:

Wing trims are essential to avoid accidents in your household. On average, wing trims are done every six to nine months, but consult your veterinarian.

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