Why is My Duck LOSING Feathers – Is it Normal?

Two ducks in a pond

If you notice your duck losing feathers then you might be wondering “why is my duck losing feathers?” Ducks losing feathers isn’t usually a cause for concern. It’s normal for ducks to lose feathers when they molt. However, if losing feathers is accompanied by incessant pecking, bleeding, and irritation, it could be a sign of something more sinister. We’re going to dive deep into this to get the answer to this question and give you all the possible reasons that they might be losing feathers.

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details.

Why is My Duck Losing Feathers?

duck by pond scratching itself
It’s not uncommon for ducks to lose feathers, and this can be the result of molting or other factors that don’t call for much concern.
Let’s look at a few possible reasons why your duck might be losing feathers.

Molting Process

Ducks undergo annual molting. This allows them to shed their old, worn feathers and start over. Their feathers fall out all at once, but they regrow them in a matter of weeks. In general, ducks molt twice a year, once in the middle of summer and again in the late winter or early spring. Read More: Do Some Ducks Have Teeth? If you think ducks have teeth, think again! Here’s how ducks use their bills to eat.

Mallard Duck Family

The Mallard family includes all ducks that are not Muscovy ducks. They come in a wide variety of breeds and names, such as Pekins, Indian Runner, Swedish, Silver Appleyard, Call, and Cayuga. Different from Muscovy ducks, Mallards and their offspring go through the molting process at different times. Most ducks in the mallard family are migratory, therefore mating and migration patterns dictate when they molt. The climate, sex, age, and breed can all have an impact on how often and how quickly they molt. There is a 1-2 month molting window. Despite these classifications, ducks of the same breed can have vastly diverse molting schedules from one another. Read More: What Does it Mean When a Duck Shakes? It could be nothing to worry about or an indication of disease. Learn more.

Muscovy Duck Family

The females of this species of duck are the only ones who molt. Female ducks regularly shed their feathers during a process termed the “nesting molt”, and the ducks then use the feathers to line their nests. TMuscovy ducks molt between July and August. Read More: Why Do Ducks Wag Their Tails? This cute behavior is usually a good sign, but here’s when it’s not.

Different Molting Kinds

duck in water flapping wings
Molting is a completely normal thing that happens to ducks. If you’ve been around ducks or are a duck owner then you’ve probably been through a season or two of molting ducks.
Ducks undergo several distinct molts, an early Spring mold or a Summer molt.

Molting in Early Spring

The springtime molt generally only affects females and it is a more subtle molt. You won’t notice too many feathers during this time. This can usually take place in the early spring or in the late winter time. Read our related article, Why is My Chicken Losing All its Feathers? Different barnyard birds will lose feathers for various reasons. Learn more!

Molting in Summer

The major and main molt happens in the summertime and can last for 2 to 3 weeks. It’ll affect females and males. Typically this can jumpstart a mating season as the males tend to love to show off their flashy new feathers. You’ll definitely notice the loss of feathers as they will lose both their top feathers and down feathers. During the molting season, both drakes and hens lose their downy undercoat. Here’s a good video showing and explaining the midsummer molt in ducks: 

Read More: How to Keep Ducklings Bedding Dry. Dry bedding can prevent disease, pests, and odors. Here’s how to keep duck bedding dry!

Other Reasons for Ducks Losing Feathers

A few ducks in the water
Making sure that you are taking care of your ducks properly can go a long way. Keeping them healthy and happy is a priority.
Several potential causes could be warning signs that something is wrong with your ducks.


Pecking, or pricking, feathers are not an uncommon habit for birds. Feather pecking is a behavior that is more habitual for the ducks and therefore other ducks have the possibility of developing this habit as well. You want to make sure that the ducks stop this habit, but also it’s important to find out why they might be developing this habit.
  • It could be just a habit, it could be because of irritation or dry skin, or even an infection.
  • If you find that you can’t get the ducks to stop pecking and they are continually losing feathers, then it’s best to take them to a vet.
Read More: Do Ducks Keep the Same Mate for Life? Learn about the duck mating season and behavior in this guide!

Environment Causes

The health of your birds can be negatively impacted by several environmental and management variables. To keep your duck’s feathers in good condition, you should provide it with plenty of clean water and food, and try to keep pests like mites and lice at bay. To get quality feathers, meat, and eggs from your ducks, you need to provide them with a healthy diet and a clean place to drink and bathe. Read More: How to Keep a Duck Pond Clean Naturally. A clean pond, especially when it’s an artificial pond, is important for disease-free ducks.

Stress Levels

Stress can also cause ducks to lose feathers. Reasons for this include – but are not limited to – severe weather, the spread of disease, a lack of medical care, and food and water. Caring for your ducks properly is essential. Be sure to give them adequate supplies and great living conditions for them to be happy and healthy. Read More: How Long Can Ducks Go Without Water? It’s not as long as you may think.

The Takeaway

Now that we’ve covered all the possible causes of feather loss in ducks, you shouldn’t disregard any concerning behavior from your pet. Keeping up with your ducks and keeping them healthy is essential. Losing feathers could be completely natural or it could be a sign of something else so it’s always best to check them out if you notice this behavior.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *