Can Chickens Fly
Many people want to know if chickens can fly, and what to do with backyard chickens in regards to flight. So, can chickens fly? In short, yes they can. However, they cannot fly very far or very high, and are not known for their flying abilities. We will cover a few common questions about chicken flight, including how high they can go, how far, and what to do with a flighty bird.
The chicken flight records show that chickens don’t have a great ability to fly. The longest recorded flight of a chicken was 13 seconds, and the farthest distance recorded was over 301 feet. Although these are impressive by chicken standards, consider that birds like eagles can fly over 125 miles without landing.
Different breeds and birds have different abilities. One breed that is known for being able to fly well is the Wyandotte. These birds start flying at a young age and are known to be more flighty birds, although they don’t fly well. On the other hand, frizzle chickens often cannot even jump up onto a perch due to their funny feathering!
Let’s look at why chickens fly. There are many reasons your poultry may take to the air, but a few are most common. First, chickens will often fly when being chased or when they feel like they are in danger. Flight is a great survival mechanism, helping your flock get away from a predator or threat.
Chickens also fly out of curiosity and perseverance. If they see literal or proverbial greener grass, they may go to investigate. Chickens are extremely determined birds, and will do what they can to see what is going on on the other side of a fence. If there are good pickins on the other side of the fence, your birds may want to see what they can find.
Finally, chickens may fly to find a place to roost. Some breeds may be more prone to this than others. Ameraucanas, for example, love to perch up in trees. They may do this at dusk, or during the day to take a nap. They may jump from branch to branch and get pretty high up there! We’ve seen our ladies up ten feet or more in the tree.
How Far Can Chickens Fly?
So, can chickens fly long distances? They cannot. When they do fly, it tends to be just a few feet at a time. Many lighter breeds are able to fly a few meters at a time, but this is rare. During a scuffle with another chicken or a predator, you may see your flock taking a low and quick flight a few meters away. In more dramatic cases when a chicken is really trying to escape something, they often will travel over fifty feet in the air.
How High Can Chickens Fly?
This is another common question we hear quite a bit. People ask can chickens fly over fences, walls, or onto roofs. Like many other questions related to chicken flight, it really depends on the breed. Heavier chickens may top out at four feet, while lighter chickens often can reach up to seven feet. Chickens will jump up into trees, onto fences, or onto roofs often in steps. If there is something near a fence for a chicken to jump up to first, they may be able to get over. However, they can be trained to not clear fences or the roof.
According to Live Science, the most simple explanations are that chickens have too small of wings, and they are too large and heavy to fly. However, they were not always that way as we point out in our post 19 Interesting Facts about Chickens. Through selective breeding, we have domesticated chickens today that are larger and less flight-prone than their ancestors, the jungle fowl.
Clipping Your Chicken’s Wings
Clipping a chicken’s wings is considered harsh by some, while many choose to do it. It does not harm your chicken, but will dramatically impact their ability to fly. By clipping just the flight wings, the birds are prevented from gaining lift. They can still fly and escape danger, but it is much more difficult for them to get good air. Do your research to see if this is right for you. If you’re interested in clipping your chickens’ wings, make sure you do it right. You can find a good guide to clipping chicken wings from Permaculture.
For more information on chickens, check out our Chicken Keeping Resource Guide with FAQ’s, book recommendations, information about different breeds, and all you need to know about coops