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If your bird has a number of blood feathers, you may want to put off trimming her wings for a few days, because fully grown feathers cushion those just coming in from life's hard knocks. If your bird has only one or two blood feathers, leave a mature feather or two to protect the incoming blood feather and trim the rest accordingly. Never trim a blood feather.

To trim your bird's feathers, separate each one away from the other flight feathers and cut it individually (remember, the goal is to have a well-trimmed bird that's still able to glide down if she needs to). Use the primary coverts (the set of feathers above the primary flight feathers on your bird's wing) as a guideline as to how short you should trim.

To ensure your bird's safety, you must trim both wings. Cut the first six to eight flight feathers starting from the tip of the wing, and be sure to trim an equal number of feathers from each wing. Although some people think that a bird needs only one trimmed wing, this is incorrect and could actually cause harm to a bird that tries to fly with one trimmed and one untrimmed wing. Think of how off balance that would make you feel; your bird is no different.

If you do happen to cut or break a blood feather, remain calm. You must remove it and stop the bleeding, and panicking will do neither you nor your bird much good. You may want to pack the blood feather with styptic powder and take the bird to your veterinarian's office to have the blood feather removed.

To remove a blood feather, have your assistant hold the bird's wing steady. Then you need to take a pair of needle-nosed pliers and grasp the broken feather's shaft as close to the skin of your bird's wing its you can. With one steady motion, pull the feather out completely while your assistant applies equal and opposite pressure from the other side of the wing. After you've removed the 112 feather, put a pinch of styptic powder on the feather follicle (the spot from which you pulled the feather) and apply direct pressure for a few minutes until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding doesn't stop after a few minutes of direct pressure, or if you can't remove the feather shaft, contact your avian veterinarian for further instructions.

Although it may seem like you're hurting your bird by removing the broken blood feather, consider this: A broken blood feather is like an open faucet. If the feather stays in, the faucet remains open and lets the blood out. Once removed, the bird's skin generally closes up behind the feather shaft and shuts off the faucet.

Now that you've successfully trimmed your bird's wing feathers, congratulate yourself. You've just taken a great step toward keeping your bird safe. But don't rest on your laurels just yet; you must remember to check your bird's wing feathers every month and retrim them periodically (about four times a year as a minimum).

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