Clipping a Duck's Wings

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April 11, 2016

Clipping a Duck's WingsWe got what we thought were 3 baby Indian Runner ducks last spring only to discover that one of them is a crossbreed (Indian Runner/Muscovy). Unfortunately that means she can fly, making it impossible for us to let them run around the yard periodically as we had planned. We decided to take her to the vet and get a lesson in wing clipping so that we can do it at home and give her the freedom to hunt slugs with our other ducks.


The toughest part of clipping her wings was actually securely holding her and extending her wings at the same time. She is big and very strong. :) Here are the step by step photos I took, along with some instructions.


  • sharp scissors
  • a second person (if possible)


Note: Our vet is the person doing the wing clipping in the photos. We had him teach us, so that we could do it safely. Please seek the advice of your vet if you have any questions, to avoid injuring your duck.

  1. Grab hold of the duck firmly, but not too tight. Extend the wing out from their body. Locate the primary "flight" feathers, which are the first 10 feathers (see diagram below).
  2. Clipping a Duck's Wings
  3. You will be clipping the primary feathers, just below the covert feathers. DO NOT cut the covert feathers. Clipping above the covert feathers could result in you cutting a blood feather, which should always be avoided.
  4. Clipping a Duck's Wings
    Clipping a Duck's Wings
    Clipping a Duck's Wings

  5. Continue clipping until all 10 feathers have been done. Then repeat on the other wing. This process will need to be repeated after they molt in order to keep them grounded.
  6. Clipping a Duck's Wings
    Clipping a Duck's Wings
  7. It is important to clip the same number of feathers on each side to maintain their balance. The amount you trim will affect the amount of lift that they might be able to achieve, meaning that the less feather you remove, the more lift they will have.
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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 124 Posts
April 16, 20171 found this helpful

Why do I think this is a cruel thing to do?

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April 11, 20182 found this helpful

This is not a painful procedure for the duck. It feels a lot like clipping your fingernails. It is not permanent. In a number of months he will have new flight feathers. It allows the duck to run freely in a fenced yard and eat what he wants (yum, slugs) rather than being confined to a much smaller area, away from his buddies, the runner (flightless) ducks.


It protects him from flying out of the yard and landing who knows where (the freeway). Seems to me to be the kind thing to do.

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April 19, 20191 found this helpful

This is sickening and appalling. Besides the two breeds mentioned, we have a backyard lake with beautiful WILD ducks and ducklings.
I could say more, but it wouldnt do any good.

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July 6, 20191 found this helpful

you do realize we have specific ducks breads to have as pets. they did not take wild ducks. I have a few domestic ducks that do need their wings clipped. they do not have the know how of how to be in the wild and their trust in humans can end up making them a family meal later on.


Clipping their wings is a good idea in this case.

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