Why do Chickens Flap Their Wings?

Rearing chickens can be pretty exciting, particularly if you have a healthy flock in your coop or backyard. No matter how healthy your flock is, you will notice your chickens flapping their wings at some point.

Chickens flap their wings for different reasons. Your birds, for instance, may flap their wings to cool themselves or when they are trying to fly.

Reasons Chickens Flap their Wings

As mentioned, many things can make your chickens flap their wings. Wing flapping isn’t something that chicken keepers can ignore.

Although it’s common for chickens to flap their wings like other bird species, wing flapping is a cause of alarm for chicken owners, and therefore they should understand precisely why their birds are flapping their wings.

Below are a couple of reasons why chickens flap their wings.

– Cooling Themselves

Chickens don’t sweat, and therefore they can’t release body heat through skin pores like humans. During hot weather, your chickens cool themselves by dunking their beaks in water and flapping their wings to allow airflow through their feathers.

If you see your chickens flapping their wings in summer, your birds are nothing wrong. They want to cool themselves. Besides flapping wings, chickens also pant and breathe rapidly during hot days to release heat from their bodies.

If your chickens continue flapping their wings for several hours, the weather is scorching, and you need to ensure your coop has proper ventilation to enhance airflow in the coop.

Besides flapping their wings, chickens will also spread their wings when they are too hot. However, your chickens will experience exhaustion if they keep flapping their wings for long.

Therefore, cool off your chickens to help them release body heat without necessarily having to flap their wings. For example, you can have a fan inside the coop to cool the air, especially when temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, have plenty of cold water since chickens drink a lot of water when they are too hot to cool off their bodies.

Free-range chickens also flap their wings to cool themselves in hot weather. Although the outdoor air isn’t as hot as indoor air, free-range chickens also need to cool off when they are too hot. It would help to have a shade in your backyard where your chickens can shelter themselves when they feel extremely hot.

– Pecking Order

Pecking order takes center stage in every chicken coop since there are chickens that want a higher ranking than other chickens. More senior members of your flock will flap their wings to prove their dominance over junior members.

Senior flock members, especially roosters, want to show their superiority over other birds by flapping their wings. Just as chickens peck at each other to showcase their dominance, senior flock members won’t hesitate to flap their wings to establish a pecking order.

However, junior flock members won’t flap their wings because of pecking older. If you observe that some of your roosters and older hens are constantly flapping their wings, they are most probably demonstrating their superiority over other chickens.

– Being Threatened

Chickens are pretty fearful, and they are ever alert of danger. Your chickens will flap their wings when they get threatened by predators, humans, and other chickens. Flapping wings, in this case, is a sign of danger.

If your backyard birds are flapping their wings, they might have noticed a predator nearby, and they want to alert you of the predator. Besides flapping wings, chickens will also make loud noises if they detect a roaming threat.

Check your chickens if they are flapping their wings while making noises since they are likely in danger.

– Exercising

Chicken also need exercise like humans since they want to remain happy and healthy. They will flap their wings to exercise their muscles, especially in the morning after getting up. If you open your coop in the morning, your chicken will rush out quickly while flapping their wings.

In this case, they will be flapping their wings to flex their muscles and fight off the fatigue they experience after many hours of roosting. They will cease to flap their wings once their wings are flexible enough. If they continue flapping their wings for over ten minutes, it is probably because of extreme fatigue.

– Trying to Fly

Chickens aren’t flighty birds like ducks, but they will occasionally try to fly. Unlike indoor chickens, free-range chickens usually attempt to fly since they have plenty of space to try flying. Although chickens can’t fly like other bird species, they will keep trying to fly.

If your birds are running around while flapping their wings, they are attempting to fly. They will cease flapping their wings once they notice they can’t fly. Even the most active chicken breeds can’t fly, and they will get tired of flapping their wings in an attempt to fly.

Why do Chickens Flap their Wings When Leaving Coop in the Morning?

If you open your chicken coop in the morning to let your birds out, you will notice that most of the flock birds will be flapping their wings. Chickens flap their wings in the morning while leaving their coop due to excitement.

Leaving the coop in the morning gives your birds a sense of freedom to run around and flap their wings. This way, your bird will stretch their wings after a crowded night in the coop. They will also flap their wings as they try to gain speed to be the first to get to the food bowl.

However, they won’t keep flapping their wings once they get to the food bowl. Instead, they will pay attention to the food in the food bowl since they will be hungry after spending several hours without eating because chickens don’t eat at night due to their lack of night vision.


Flapping wings is a pretty normal behavior in chickens. After all, these birds can’t keep their wings closed all the time. They will have to flex their wings occasionally when they get the freedom to flap their wings.

However, don’t assume your chickens are okay if they constantly flap their wings. Investigate what is making your birds flap their wings.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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