Clipping a Duck’s Wings

Clipping a Duck’s Wings

Whether or not to clip your ducks’ wings is a difficult and controversial decision. Flying is natural for them and makes them happy, so some feel it is cruel to remove their freedom of flight. Flying can also give them an advantage over predators. On the other hand, domestic ducks frequently (albeit unintentionally) fly away from home, never to be seen again. And being domestic, they are not capable of fending for themselves, and thus are likely to starve to death or be eaten by a predator.

Recently, over the course of less than two months, five people I knew had the misfortune of having their ducks fly away. One was found. The others weren’t. I myself have also been a victim of this tragedy. I had a small flock of ducks when I was eight years old, and I was loathe to clip them. I loved to watch them soar through the air and flap their mighty wings. I knew they loved it too.

Then three of them flew away. We found one of the three. The second returned the following day. The third, Snowy, probably starved to death in the desert.

Ever since, I’ve clipped my ducks. I can understand why some people choose not to, but I personally don’t feel it’s worth the risk.

Everyone says, “Well, my ducks won’t leave! My ducks love it here!” Then it happens and they’re heartbroken.

How much your duck loves its home has no bearing on the matter. Any duck that is capable of flying is capable of accidentally flying away and not knowing how to come back home. And the chance of it is probably much higher than you think.

Thus, I think it’s better to clip your duck’s wings.

  • Clipping does not hurt or cause any pain to the duck. Feathers are made of keratin, the same material as your hair and fingernails.
  • Clipping only takes a few seconds, thus causing only minimal stress to the duck.
  • Clipping does have to be redone every year, after the annual molt.

Here is my video on how to clip a duck’s wings:

It’s sometimes easier with two people, depending on how squirmy your duck is.

Below is a diagram showing where to clip.

duck wing clipping diagram
A diagram of clipping paths.

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    1. I have a male duck that is trying to mate with my chickens I feel he may have drown one. I have unsuccessfully tried to find him a new good home. He doesn’t fly but has to use his wings to catch the chickens. I was wondering if it clipped his wings it may slow him down so that he can’t catch my hens.

      Jodi Kauachi
      1. I doubt that would help. Ducks can pretty much be just as fast even without flapping. But if you don’t have any other easy solutions, it might be worth a try.

        If you can’t rehome him, it would be best to separate him somehow. It might also help if he had more female ducks. It’s very dangerous for drakes to try to mate hens.


    1. I can’t say I disagree…this is a really old video that I’ve been planning to update for several years but haven’t had time. I’ve learned some things since. These two ducks were very skittish. My ducks are a lot more friendly now. I’ve also now switched to clipping both wings (clipping one wing unbalances them, which means they crash land if they try to jump or fly at all), and I usually do have a helper. If I do only clip one wing, I can do it while they’re eating without even needing to pick them up, and they barely even look up. 🙂