Releasing Home Raised Mallard Duckling & Other Related Misc. ?'s
I'm a college student home on break in Yakima, Washington for the summer. A few days after coming home in the first week of June, an orphaned mallard duckling showed up on the doorstep to my neighbor's home with no mother or other ducklings anywhere to be found. We left her out there for a while just to make sure mom wasn't off somewhere waiting for us to disappear before she came to the rescue...but no such rescue came to pass.
After getting it inside and with plenty of ooo'ing and aww'ing over the cute little devil from 7 women crowded in the kitchen, I decided to be the one to adopt her since I had the most time on my hands for the entire summer.
And then I realized I knew NOTHING about ducks lol...fortunately, our neighbor's sister had raised several and was able to give some very helpful pointers. To make a long story short, after a quick learning curve and countless hours of mommy'ing I have a very healthy, very happy 8 week old mallard duckling....named Daisy....who is either named properly so....or is a transgender teenage duck who will have issues in the future because "mom" jumped the naming gun lol.
Daisy is not surprisingly stuck to me like glue since I'm mom. She even slept in her own sweatshirt in bed beside me every night right up until last week when she grew just too big to stay comfortably wrapped up.
I've slowly been weaning her from me and adjusting her to outdoor life. Unfortunately for her, we had no way to provide her fellow ducklings of her own age. I tried to compensate for this as best I could by keeping her with me as much as possible and providing her a mirror in her very large box to keep her company when that wasn't possible. She stayed close to the mirror a lot of the time and made friends with her fellow duck in the mirror....as well as the one in the reflection of the oven and dishwasher upstairs! ha!
Anyway, I'm pouring on like a proud parent because it's fun to share all the funny things ducklings do (as I see you all love to do so much on this board! and trust me there's many from this way with raising a single duckling in the house!). But the point of my message is this...
As hard as I've tried to figure out how to provide a good home for Daisy when I return to college, I just don't see a way to do it. I would leave her here with my folks, but we have outdoor dogs who love birds...and my parents aren't around nearly enough to give her the attention she needs. Not to mention...there are no other ducks here. I want her to be a happy healthy duck who has a somewhat normal life with other ducks....but I'm not sure how to go about doing that.
She currently has a very large pen outside we built for her, including a kid's pool and a little windbreak for shelter with plenty of grass to root through. She even has tiny goldfish to hunt in her pool that I stock weekly (after first having to teach her that they were food ha!) I've been trying to get her adjusted to outdoor life more and more over time...she now spends the majority of her time out there except for a few hours in the evening inside with me. She swims just fine, she hunts bugs and fish, preens, stetches her wings, and recognizes what a duck looks like in the mirror....but I'm still worried about her survival on her own if we release her.
A friend of our family has a pond on their property that many wild mallards call home. We want to release her there where someone can keep an eye out on her. My main concern is that she is not socially adjusted to other ducks....and is still not full size due to her age. I'm worried other ducks will attack her. Or that she won't be able to find enough food on her own since her diet is still supplemented with general poultry feed (nonmedicated) always available. Are these justified concerns? Has anyone else released an orphaned duckling after raising them?
Part of me feels like it's a catch 22....by raising her, she got a chance to grow up healthy, but by also doing so, she hasn't had the wild experience except for her first couple days of life. I don't want to keep her confined and by herself all her life..but I don't want to send her out into the wild by herself if she's not properly equipped to make it. So anyone's experiences or advice are welcomed!
On a lighter side note, I noticed that someone else was mentioning something similar to a question I wanted to ask about markings. Daisy has gotten all of her first feathering which I understand is a unisex feathering. However, she does have the irridecent green feathers on the top of her head and a yellowish beak like a male....but deep blue/purple feathers on the black strip on her wing...like a female. Is this typical of the first feathering or indicative of what sex she's going to end up being? And finally...when will she start quacking? She's 8 weeks now and you can tell her vocals are starting to change, but she still peeps a lot lol
*whew* this was a very long post....excuse my rambling, it's jsut a lot of fun to share. And more importantly, I haven't had a chance to talk to anyone about some of these concerns who could provide an answer. I hope to find one here. What I do know is that after this experience, I plan to write the next best selling book....Raising Your Teenage Duck. ha!
Anyway, thank you in advance to anyone who might be able to help and I've enjoyed reading all of your duckie posts up to this point!