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The context I want to use it in is as follows:

Even within that confined space the chickens bustled around. Bobbing their heads in every direction, they balanced themselves by lifting their feet in turns from the bars. They puffed out their wings a little as well.

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    Do you have any evidence that chickens lifting their feet or stretching their wings has anything to do with balance? Or have you just assumed that is why they are doing it? – James Waldby - jwpat7 Apr 5 '13 at 18:52
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"Puffed out" is actually a nicely creative way of saying this. Other creative choices are possible: "flung," "thrusted... sideways," "jerked," "popped," "quivered," "lifted," "spread."

Each of these requires modifying words, thus:

"They jerked their wings in and out, making tiny balancing movements."

"Their wings popped slightly up and and quickly down again, trying to keep them steady."

And so on, and so on. ("Spread" is of course the classic choice when used to describe a bird's wings opening, and you can use it effectively if you modify it carefully.)

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You can say, "They shifted their feet and stretched out their wings a bit to adjust their balance as a tightrope walker would use a balancing pole." or "They fidgeted around on the bars, constantly changing positions, using their unfurled wings for balance."

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