Max length of time for duckling to grow full-length wing

DucksGeeseHeart

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Jul 27, 2021
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[Edited to add: Subjects are wild Mallards, although they have been acting tame (only towards people they know). They were born at this pond, have so far never left except to travel back and forth between this and 2 adjacent ponds, and been fed sometimes by humans who know better than to feed bread and have consulted experts concerning what, how, and when to feed. They have all been observed feeding from natural sources - minnows from the pond, diving for bugs in the grass. Pictures have been added.]

Nine (Mallard) ducklings are nearing 11 weeks old in a few days. Seven have been able to fly for at least a week, maybe two. But two of them still have short, stumpy wings. One of the two has what appears to be one flight feather growing each side. The other has no flight feather at all.

I'm not worried about "angel wing" because my understanding is that is a full-length wing, just not strong. They have never had the diet that results in that disease. Just wondering whether I should be worried there's a deformity, since the wings of these 2 are still so short, and all their birth mates have full wings and can fly. Are there ever some ducklings who don't grow their full wing?

When I searched the internet I read that "a duckling can fly in 5-8 weeks." (These are nearing 11). But a second source quoted The wing joint will be fully developed and able to support the wing properly by the time the bird reaches 16 weeks of age.”

Have any of you noticed some ducklings still growing their wings after 8 weeks, and should I be worried for these two?

Thank you!
 

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Miss Lydia

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:welcome

If you could get some pictures of your ducks your are concerned about that would help alot.
What breed since your saying flying? Muscovy, Calls?
Angelwing causes the wing to turn out like a hitchhikers thumb so pictures showing wings from the back of the birds would be good.
 

DucksGeeseHeart

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Jul 27, 2021
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:welcome

If you could get some pictures of your ducks your are concerned about that would help alot.
What breed since your saying flying? Muscovy, Calls?
Angelwing causes the wing to turn out like a hitchhikers thumb so pictures showing wings from the back of the birds would be good.
They are wild Mallards. I found another post in here, from this yesterday actually, also about Mallards. The pictures of her birds look similar to most of my flock, *except* for the two who don't yet have full wings. No hitchhikers thumb or anything sticking out as there is no extension past the first joint as yet. I think I have a picture of one from the back in a video I took, I'll see if I can isolate the frame.

When they rise up to stretch and flap their "wings," you can see there is only a stub there - like our arm if it was cut off at the elbow. Not a full wing like all the others.
 
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DucksGeeseHeart

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Here are some pictures. One can notice the white feathers at the ends and underneath the short wing bone, and the absence of the long flight feathers and blue "insignia" feathers that appear after wings have full growth.

First picture is of the one with the shortest wings. He has no beginning of a flight feather.
Second picture is a side view of Duck 2, showing beginning of the flight feather extension.
Third is also Duck 2, from the rear with his head down, showing more of the white feathers at the ends of his wing stubs
 

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Miss Lydia

~Gift of God ~ Eternal Life ~John 3:16-17
Premium Feather Member
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Oct 3, 2009
126,798
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Mountains of Western N.C.
Other than wing issues they are otherwise healthy? I just don't know what to tell you I've never seen anything where all siblings the same age and wings haven't matured along with the duck. Wonder if it's some kind of genetic thing passed down?
@swampfox440 has knowledge about Mallards.
 

DucksGeeseHeart

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Jul 27, 2021
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Other than wing issues they are otherwise healthy? I just don't know what to tell you I've never seen anything where all siblings the same age and wings haven't matured along with the duck. Wonder if it's some kind of genetic thing passed down?
@swampfox440 has knowledge about Mallards.
These two are part of a pretty large brood - 9 ducklings total. (I'm not totally sure they're both from the same family, because now the 2 families are commingled). They are, interestingly, the largest of the 16 ducklings (combined number from both families.

Since the one brood of 9 was so large, another observer was thinking it might be an abnormality - the odds of that many ducklings all being perfect being maybe high? We've never seen a brood that large around here. Or - Is there a possibility someone could have clipped them? This is an apartment complex with 3 ponds. Maybe clipped them so two would stay around when all the others left?? It seems dubious. We don't think the establishment takes an interest in the ducks.

What do clipped wings look like?

Either way, what will happen to them when the weather turns cold? (This is Virginia, so not *terribly* cold, but does get down to freezing sometimes). In past years (I've been told), the ducks fly away after they mature. A few return in spring to breed and build nests.

Do mallards migrate to warmer-than-Virginia locations? Maybe the prior years' flocks only re-located, and a few stayed the winter but hidden in a tunnel. (There are aqueducts that go under the road, and at the edges of the ponds).
 

DucksGeeseHeart

Chirping
Jul 27, 2021
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Nine (Mallard) ducklings are nearing 11 weeks old in a few days. Seven have been able to fly for at least a week, maybe two. But two of them still have short, stumpy wings. One of the two has what appears to be one flight feather growing each side. The other has no flight feather at all.

Could there be a deformity, since the wings of these 2 are still so short, and all their birth mates have full wings and can fl?. Are there ever some ducks who don't grow their full wing?

When I searched the internet I read that "a duckling can fly in 5-8 weeks." (These are nearing 11). But a second source quoted The wing joint will be fully developed and able to support the wing properly by the time the bird reaches 16 weeks of age.”

Have any of you noticed some ducklings still growing their wings after 8 weeks, and should I be worried for these two?

Thank you!
Update on these two ducks with short wings:
It's about 2-1/2 weeks later, since my first post. So they're about 13-14 weeks old?
Their wings are longer! They each have the full blue stripe now. One has beginnings of flight feathers visible, they grow out at the top part of the blue stripe. The other has very little flight feather visible yet, but I'm now confident it's on it's way. :D

I guess the 2nd source I quoted was correct - it can take up to 16 weeks for the wing to be fully developed.

These two are still not flying (obviously), and stick together. But all the other ducks are still staying around too, though they sometimes leave to visit neighboring ponds, they're still coming back to be with the two flightless ones. It's very cool.

I'm still feeding them dried worms, grains, seeds ... what they'd be eating at this point in their development, if they had migrated. I read they need protein in order to grow new feathers after molting, or grow their first feathers, and it's been very dry lately, so the bugs they used to run and catch before are no longer around. They have only the vegetation they can reach at the bottom of the pond.
 

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