In some domestic birds such as chickens or caged exotic birds such as parrots drooping wings can be an indication of poor health and cause for concern. Wild birds can have droopy wings that show ill health too or it can be a sign that the birds are hot.
Lark Sparrow with droopy wings – Nikon D500, f8, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Last week while I was photographing some Lark Sparrows in northern Utah I took images of this one who had droopy wings because the sparrow was hot. I was hot, I know how the sparrow felt. It was only 8:39 am and the temperature on my Jeep was already reading 87°F. Typically I don’t see temps that high until later in the day. At least I could turn on my air conditioner to cool off.
This Lark Sparrow wasn’t sick, it was just hot and by dropping its wings and holding them away from its body it was attempting to regulate its temperature.
As temperatures climb here in northern Utah due to climate change I think we will be seeing more and more birds with droopy wings.