Releasing Home Raised Mallard Duckling & Other Related Misc. ?'s

Froggiedawg(z6WA)July 31, 2005

Hey all,

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 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 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 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!


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Oh...and one more thing in relation....does anyone know when mallard ducklings leave their mothers? How does that occur?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 4:16AM
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Interesting story. I sure don't have any experience as my two are with their mom. They too will be 8 weeks old this Saturday. Too bad you don't live in Florida or you could let your guy/girl move in with these as they are about the same age and size. I have heard the mom will accept those of the same size/age but if they aren't close she will try and kill them. I don't know when mom leaves the babies. I had to pen mine up with their mom due to a mean old hawk and I just let them out today as they are fully feathered out. The mom flew off for a bit but came right back shortly.She still has to teach them to fly which might be interesting. Are there any bird rescue/sanctuary places in your area that might be rehabing some others or know of a mom who has some babies about the same age?
Sadly in my area, mallards are considered ferile if they are still here this part of the year and not migrated. The places in my area that could "help" would dispose of them for me.
I would see what Motherduck and breezyB have to say.They post on here quite a bit and have helped me a lot.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 11:33PM
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sumac(SE MI)

Sounds to me like you have a little boy! All mallards have the blue/purple on the wing bar. His quack will just be a hoarse whispery quack. He'll probably do fine on the pond and would prefer to be with his own kind. Even domestic ducks turn 'wild' in short order when put on their own on a pond. Best to put him out late summer or early fall so he has time to socialize and join a flock before the ponds freeze over (I'm assumming he can fly)as they need open water. It's in the spring that the males fight so his chances seem better to me end of summer. We always supplement our ducks foraging with a dish of duck chow down by the pond each evening. The wild ducks enjoy this too and it may just keep them coming back often enough for your little guy to bond with a friend. Good luck

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 6:01PM
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I might be needing some advice on this as well.Mama D flew off today around 8:30 AM and has not returned. Does anyone know what age the ducklings are when the mother leaves them permanently? I am suprised she did not return at all as they cannot fly yet. We have had them penned for 5 weeks due to hawks but let them out 3 days ago. Mama D only left briefly and then returned for the first 2 days. She was closeby and could hear them crying for her.Today I am afraid she might have left for good. She was in my neighbor's pool for awhile while they were crying and then she left. I hope nothing happened to her. Surely she would remember how to get back.
The ducklings did fine as they are 8 weeks old but they did cry for her off and on. They heard a dog barking earlier and thought it was mama and began crying and running around the yard. It was sad to hear them.
I guess in my duck dreamland in an ideal world, I figured she would teach them to fly and they would all leave together to go somewhere,separating eventually, coming back to visit every once in awhile living happily ever after.
They are mallards also which is a wild duck. I would rather not domesticate them but certainly could if I had do. Decisions, decisions.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 9:53PM
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Our neighbors raised a Canada goose last year and had a similar situation, although they had not prepared "Pic Pic" for the wild nearly as well as you've prepared Daisy. These people were from Lithuania, and while they meant well, I think that they really should have done a bit more for him, for instance, they didn't get him a pool to swim in, and they fed him horse feed, not a commercial duck/goose feed. Anyhow, they had to go back home and the time had come to release him. They ended up taking him to the city's cemetary, which is kind of like a botanical gardens. There are several ponds there, and not a whole lot of geese. At first he was afraid of the water, and acted like he was drowning! But, he figured it out within about 5 minutes, and he is doing okay now. I go check on him every few months, and he is still there, and he will come up to me (and anybody else who brings him food). He seems to be in good health. I think that wild animals are more resiliant than people give them credit for. They have instincts--not everything is "learned" from their parents.

Good luck with your duck!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 10:08PM
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Good news! The mother came back the next day. Since then, she has only left for very brief periods. The little guys really missed her. I am glad she is back.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 8:20AM
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gardnpondr(Zone 8)

Laurie, the other ducks will attack her/him if you put her/him on the pond with them. They say to put ducks with the others when they get the same size as the others but I really wonder if that's even right because I wouldn't want the full grown males mating with my younger ducklings until they got grown. I have hatched out several mallard ducklings this summer. I have 27 of them in 3 different groups and sure wish I could put them together but I can't. There is 11 in two different batches and then 5 in another batch. The 5 was just hatched out n July.
Good luck with your duckling! They do love to be with other ducklings!!!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 7:14PM
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I have been raising two baby Mallard Ducklings. Their names are Moe and Duckie and they are not much older then a week. I was wondering if anyone knows when they will be old enough to be released? Also I was wondering on how to help them to hunt for insects? I tried to give them worms but they weren't intersted are they still to young for them?
So if anyone has an idea please let me know. Thanks

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 12:39PM
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I understand how you feel about letting your baby duck go out into the wild! I have 21 ducks right now. I had 3 big boy muscovies and their names were :Shadow , Sue, and Snowflake. They were always bothering my girls and wouldn't ever give time to just do their own thing and I got tired of seeing my girls being treated like that.

There is a river behind the mall here and many people go and feed the ducks. Since my boys were fully grown and could fly really well, I decided to take them to the river. It was really hard for me to do. My mom helped me make the decision. I couldn't have done it on my own.

I thought the boys were going to want to come back home wehn I started to leave them. I dreaded them looking at me with their eyes wondering what I did this for. But, when I let them out they all 3 started strutting around like they always did at home. Shadow even grabbed another goose's tail and wouldn't let go! LOL! There are a lot of ducks and a lot of geese there and so they have plenty to socialize with.

They seemed really happy and several times a week I go and feed them and spend some time with them. There is a little island off in the water that they stay on most of the time.

So, even though it was hard it was a happy ending at the end. :)

Let us know what you do and how Daisy does
talk to you later,

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 2:45PM
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I found a mallard nest one year tore apart.There were 2 eggs ok so I put themm under chicken she took good care of them,She would take her chicks for a walk and ducks would jump in stream. one week they practiced flying around the farm.One night flew up to pond.Got in with other ducks.To this day theres 2 ducks downm there most days.Every year she goes down and goes in chicken house.Its weird like shes visiting mom.One year she brought her mate.I said boy isnt he gonna be shocked meeting her mother.Shes ugly as heck.shes a araucana.Lookslike a black turkey buzzard.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 8:46AM
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We live in Columbus OH and while mowing our hay fields unfortunately hit a mother mallard who had built her nest in the hayfield. The 9 eggs were not damaged so I put them in an incubator. Nine days later, 8 of them hatched. They are now just 2 weeks old so I have a few more weeks with them. From what I have read on the internet, their instincts should take over and come Fall, they should fly South for the Winter as nature intended. For now, they are in a large blow up baby pool in our home office with another one just like it outside with shallow water in it for swimming. For now, I carry them to/from the house in a big box so they can play in the pool outside. I put a board in the pool so when they are ready they just walk up it and jump out of the pool. Since they have imprinted on me, they follow me around our yard foraging for bugs and whatever else they find of interest. Since the pool wont keep them contained for much longer (I dont want to come down one morning and find them all running around the office leaving their calling cards)we are in the process of modifying a 10x10 dog run in our backyard for them to move in to. We fashioned a floor from plywood so predators cannot dig underneath and get them and are putting on a "roof" along with a tarp to protect them from rain. We also put up a 2.5 foot barrier around the edge attached to the walls for extra protection. We will most likely put in some sort of "house" or box for them to get into at night for sleeping. The plan is as they start to grow their adult feathers and attempt flying we will allow them to come and go from the "coop" during the day at will and will lock them up at night for protection. Then, when it is time Im assuming they will leave. I bet they will come back next year though; hopefully. It would be nice to see them again and see how many were able to avoid the hunters.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 10:00AM
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I have raised many homeless ducks(-: They will adapt to the wild at some point but they will also adapt to being with a family that loves them. Nothing is more fun then raising a baby and watching it grow into a beautiful adult duck(-: If you can I would find an adoptive family for your duck when you leave for college. Someone to love it and take care of it and protect it from preditors. Ducks can be wiped out by racoons, hawks etc. Your duck sounds like a really friendly happy little bird. If you could find a home for it while you were at college then when you come back for vacations you could visit with it. (-: I know how easy it is to become attached to ducks. They have so much personality! Good luck with yours. (-:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 11:04AM
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While visiting in Lakeland FL in Feb., I saw two ducklings on a pond which mother had left and she didn't return by the next AM. They were running and sounding an alarm peep which attracted predators and there was only one duckling left. It was exhausted and a crane/heron was lurking nearby. I ran the crane/heron off and caught the duckling (Muscovy) and brought him/her home to TN in a box. I even fashioned a heavy fishing line into a leash and let it walk and wade puddles on a beach on the way home. That was 5 weeks ago.

I feed him/her chick starter and Duck-Duck stays in a plastic lined cardboard box with layers of newspaper and a large mirror (his buddy).

He is getting his adult feathers now and it is so much fun to watch his antics in the bathtub. He loves "clean" spaghetti noodles and "purrs" and wags his tail when he gets fed.

I take him outside where he follows me while I turn over landscape timbers and rocks to help him find earthworms and crickets and "rollie-pollie" bugs. He llloves earthworms! I call him a "homing duck" because if frightened he makes a beeline to the back door wanting to get back to his "buddy" in his box.

He has a welded wire pen outside that has a top on it, with another mirror "buddy" inside. It's all inside of a fenced yard.

I hope to acclimate him to other ducks and a pond where I can eventually give him freedom. I understand that flocks often pick on a new duck, so this will take some time.

I am really enjoying watching Duck-Duck mature.

By the way....I'm only 63 years old!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 10:51PM
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Last year I raised three pekin ducks to help repopulate a pond behind our house. The previous winter the ducks were all killed by a coyote. There was one surviving male mallard and the pekins and the mallard became a family. This spring the pekins turned on the mallard and chase it away biting its tail. I am raising three mallards this year so the mallard has its own family. The pekins became very interested in the baby's laying next to their cage in the day. The first chance they had to have access to the baby's which are eight weeks old now but cant fly yet, They try to kill them. We freaked out and batted them off. They became aggressive through the cage as well. Left with a dilema of what to do we trapped the pekins and relocated them to a different pond with other pekins. Today we woke up to many mallards on our pond. Yea.. The problem, The babys ran up to a male and female mallard and the male turned on them. Will they hurt them if i release them to the pond? How old do they have to be before they fly? I thought relocating the pekins would leave us a peaceful mallard pond.. Help

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:16AM
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I have a female Mallard who showed up in my driveway at about 3 days old. We took her in and bought 5 chicks to keep her company. They are all fully feathered now and she has learned to swim quite well, beginning in our bathtub and now the pool. She hasn't tried to actually fly and even though we cuddled and cared for her almost from birth, she is very scared and runs away if we come near. I would like to release her to a pond but wonder if other ducks will harm her. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 6:48PM
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While on vacation in PA over Easter weekend I became the foster mother to 9 baby mallard ducklings as their mother was killed by a car. The nest was next to a busy roadway and myself and my children thought we were doing the right thing by taking the ducklings in. We brought them home and got the proper food and shelter for them. They grew so quickly and before we knew it we had 9 beatiful ducks in our life. We kept the ducks in a pen we built outside throughout the day and transferred the ducks to an indoor pen at night to protect them from predators. I contacted a wildlife rehabber and was given a few pointers as to how to take care of these ducks. The ducks were fully feathered and they swam, ate worms and bugs and loved eating grass and weeds. We decided that it was a good time to release them. Last weekend we brought the ducks to a beautiful lake back in PA and released them. They did try to follow us when we went to leave. We led them back to the water and were gradually able to leave. Our hearts are broken. We grew to love these little ducks and wanted to do the right thing by them. I can only pray that they are okay and that together they will adapt, I can honestly say that anyone who finds themself in a similar situation should really enlist the help of a trained rehabber. The one I contacted did not really seem all that interested in helping me, maybe she thuought I wanted to dump them on her....which was definitely not the case. Although the only physical contact we had with the ducks was when we transferred from their outside pen to the inside pen, it was obvious when we released them that they were atteched to us. We did spend alot of time watching them and talking to them. I dont know if we did the right thing by them in the long run as I am not there to keep an eye on them...I can only hope that they are ok.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:43PM
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