How to Clip Duck Wings to Keep Them From Flying (EASY)

A white feather sitting on top of the water

Clipping your duck’s wings prevents them from flying over fences or flying away from home. If done incorrectly, you could hurt your duck, so it’s important to do it right and be careful while you clip. This guide aims to show you how to clip duck wings in a few easy steps!

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How to Clip Duck Wings

Duck in the water flapping wings
Clipping duck wings is something that many people do, but it’s important to know the proper ways to do it and how to do it safely.
It’s recommended that you clip your duck’s wings so that they can’t fly away, especially if you have a duck with a hurt leg, or you’re using them for a purpose such as egg laying or meat.

What You’ll Need

  • Towel or cloth
  • Sharp shears, scissors, or tin cutters
Many duck owners want their waterfowl pets to be free to roam their yards, feed, and swim as they like. Clipping duck’s wings allow you to let them freely roam without giving them the ability to fly away. You will need to clip their wings regularly in the fall after their feathers have fully grown. As summer approaches, the bird will naturally begin to molt and shed its flight feathers. Read More: Why is My Duck Losing its Feathers? It’s normal for ducks to lose feathers, but sometimes it’s a bad sign.

Step 1

Put the bird in a peaceful setting away from any potential disturbances. When you do this, the duck will feel more at ease and you’ll have an easier time cutting its wings.

Step 2

Position the duck so its back is facing up. Wrap your duck in a towel, leaving its head and neck exposed if it’s not used to having its wings clipped.

Step 3

Take out one of the wings from the towel. Holding the wing at the wrist, gently spread it out to its maximum length. Examine the bird’s wing for any signs of blood. Blood vessels inside the quill of these feathers are sometimes visible, and they have a pink foundation. Blood feathers are immature feathers that can be injured and painfully cut. Always avoid snipping the blood feathers of a duck.


  • Ducks have 10 major flying feathers that can be clipped with sharp scissors or tin snips.
  • Start from the outside of the wing and proceed inward, clipping only one feather at a time.
  • Approximately three-quarters of the way down to the top of the major coverts (the next layer of feathers), the flight feathers should be trimmed.
  • Clipping just one wing will prevent the bird from flying, there’s no need to worry about the other wing.
  • If you want the duck’s wing to look natural when it’s closed, you should leave the first 2 major feathers alone and trim the next 10.
Here’s a video showing you how to clip your duck wings:

Read More: How to Pick Up a Duck. It’s important to know how to handle your duck to avoid possible injury when maneuvering them to clip its wings.

Do Clipped Wings Grow Back?

Duck flailing wings in the water
Clipping wings on a duck is completely normal. Many people wonder if this is permanent or if they’ll grow back on the duck.
Clipped wings do indeed grow back on your duck. Molting is a process where the duck will shed and replace all of its feathers once a year and this process allows the feathers to grow back. This is why we recommend clipping your duck’s wings once a year in the fall once they’ve molted. This will let your duck’s wings be clipped for a whole year until the next molting season. Read More: How Long Do Ducks Live? If you’re getting a duck then you need to know more than just how to clip its wings, like its lifespan.

Should I Clip My Duck’s Wings?

If you have domesticated ducks and are worried about them wandering off, then you should consider clipping their wings. It’s very common and even veterinarians offer this service to duck owners. It’s ethical and does not cause any harm to your ducks at all. It’s quite similar to us receiving a haircut and the only difference is that their feathers are used to fly, so without them, they won’t be able to fly off.

How to Check if a Duck’s Wings Are Clipped

five ducks flying in the sky with a sunset
You’ll be able to tell that a duck’s wings have been clipped if the feathers are blunt and don’t have the elongated shape of natural flight feathers.
You can see if a duck’s wings have been clipped by stretching out the wing and looking at the various sorts of feathers. Verify that the flight feathers have not been clipped at an angle to the shaft. Read More: How Fast Can Ducks Swim Underwater? Ducks aren’t the fastest swimmers, but here’s how quickly they can swim above and under the water!

Advantages of Clipping a Duck’s Wings

The primary benefit of removing a duck’s wings is that it prevents the animal from flying away, where it could potentially become lost or injured. Clipping the wings of your duck is beneficial for several reasons, one of which is that it tames the duck. Because they are reliant on you for their well-being while they are unable to fly, they develop a stronger attachment to you. Read More: How to Train Ducks to Follow You… and other helpful tips for bonding with and free-ranging your ducks!

Disadvantages of Clipping a Duck’s Wings

One of the drawbacks of trimming your duck’s wings is that it makes them more susceptible to being eaten by other animals, which is a disadvantage in and of itself. If wings are cut incorrectly, it can cause your bird to have problems with its joints, bleeding, and pain. Read More: Why Do Ducks Wag Their Tails?

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you choose to clip your duck’s wings is up to you, but it is something that you should consider if you want to keep your ducks safe and healthy. If you do decide to clip their wings, be sure to follow the proper steps so that you do not cause any harm to your feathered friend.

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