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How to Clip Duck Wings

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Towel

  • Sharp scissors or tin cutters

Many pet duck owners want to allow their bird to graze and swim around a yard without fear of it flying away or moving into unsafe areas. You can prevent your duck from taking flight by clipping its wing. Duck wings need to be trimmed only once a year, in the fall when the feathers are completely grown in. During the summer, the bird will molt and drop its flight feathers on its own.

Move the bird into a calm and quiet place free of distractions. This will help keep the duck relaxed and minimize its anxiety while you clip its wing.

Place the bird on its back. If your duck is not used to having its wings clipped, wrap it in a towel, ensuring its head and neck aren't covered. Remove one wing from underneath the towel. Gently hold the wing by the wrist bone and extend it fully.

Check for blood feathers on the bird's wing. These feathers are pink at the base and sometimes have visible blood vessels inside the quill. Blood feathers are newly developing feathers that aren't yet hollow and can be damaged and cause pain if clipped. Never cut a duck's blood feathers.

Clip 10 of the duck's primary flight feathers with pair of sharp scissors or tin cutters. Start from the outside of the wing and move inward, cutting only one feather at a time. Trim the flight feathers 3/4 of the way down to the top of the primary coverts, which are the next layer of feathers.

Release the bird back to its habitat. Don't worry about trimming its other wing, as clipping just one will prevent the bird from flying and minimize stress to the animal.


  • Leave the duck's first two primary feathers intact and clip the next 10 primary feathers to make the wing look more natural when it's closed.