Relocating ducks and ducklings

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11 years 7 months ago #32928 by Awaken2Infinite
Heya all, just recently 2 female grey ducks have brought their brood onto our property with a total of 21 ducklings. They show up from time to time and unfortunately we sit back and watch the duckling numbers dwindle day by day to predators and roads etc. On this occasion we had our entire back yard fenced off for our two hens so we decided to place them in there (the ducks had been visiting in there prior to the ducklings arrival).

Best scenario is the mother ducks lead the ducklings away from human "civilisation" to a water habitat where they can feed themselves. Now as much as I like that scenario and really dont like the idea of capturing and enclosing them we have weighed the more likely scenario, which is they will probably end up walking back and forth over the main road outside our gate while people feed them goodies as they go. This tends to equal a low suvival rate for ducklings ending up wandering the local mall being fed fish and chips and bakery goods in the carparks while avoiding vehicles and late night drunks.

They separate the chicks from their own brood and the dominant one doesnt tend to like the other getting too close but no major aggression and the hens are no issue to them and continue to lay. We are giving them nutritional feed that we have for the chickens and trying to find what plants they would eat in the wild. We dont want them to become dependent on humans for their food however and likewise dont want them to become people friendly so we keep our distance from them and they maintain their fear of humans which will help them out there once released after they get a bit larger and capable and perhaps closer to flying.

Anyway the purpose of writing this is to possibly get in contact with someone familiar with these birds and the Auckand area (we are located in West Auckland) and possibly further away to find a good place where they can be released away from human predators. Will do a bit of ringing around the local bird rescue places in Auckland and try and get the same sort of advice but just thought to ask here.

So feel free to add any suggestions, feel free to comment, any help appreciated. Thanks.

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11 years 7 months ago #438302 by Nora
Replied by Nora on topic Relocating ducks and ducklings
If you're going to keep them confined then make sure they are protected from predators too. Little ducklings shouldn't be given layer pellets if that's what you're referring to with the nutritional feed as it has too much calcium. I feed ducklins meatbird crumble. Chick crumbles are ok as long as they are unmedicated. The medicine can kill ducklings. And be careful that the chooks water is not available to them as they will get in and get very cold and die. Just give them a very shallow dish of water they can get out of.

Grey ducks fly so I imagine that once they're old enough they'll take off. Perhaps the females will return with their own broods in the future. I'm not sure of groups in your area that can help relocate them but someone local will be able to suggest something I'm sure. They might also be able to advise about dependence on humans. Are you sure they're not mallards? Grey ducks are apparently rarer. Not that it makes much difference to your questions I guess.

It also may not be legal to keep them confined, but if it's for their own safety until they can be relocated then I imagine it's fine.

I found this link which can give an idea:
ebird.org/content/newzealand/news/are-yo...ly-seeing-grey-ducks

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11 years 7 months ago #438317 by Anne
Replied by Anne on topic Relocating ducks and ducklings
Are they grey ducks as in the colour grey or are they grey ducks as in the species grey?

Ducklings will do well seperated from their mothers for raising as long as they have a source of warmth. I used to raise them outdoors in a large cage with an enclosed section which had a 100 w bulb as a heat source. Bulb was high enough so the growing ducklings wouldn't be burned by it.

As Nora said, make sure any water is very shallow. You will need to sort out and automatic waterer because they make a real mess of their water.

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11 years 7 months ago #438344 by spoook
They are welcome to come here if you can bring them. We have several mallard ducks with young right now. PM me if you want to arrange it.

Can you post a picture to see what sort of duck we are dealing with?

You do realise that humans are not their only problem? Sadly they are part of the great foodchain of all life. Even I have realised I can
t save them all. :(

Have you seen the drake? They do stay as a family unit. Would be rather sad to rehome the duck and young and leave the drake with no forwarding address.

There are no bad questions only those that are not asked.
"You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed"

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11 years 7 months ago #438366 by Awaken2Infinite
Thanks for the replies. Yesterday we had to buy more fabric mesh to separate the yard for them as the older female began having a go at the other ducks young as all the ducklings just want to all group together. The younger duck doesnt have any agression issues but also doesnt help much either as all she seems to want to do is rejoin with the older one for support but we dont want any ducklings killed so had to add the border in. Now separated with their own brood things are much better.

As for food its cold porridge, oats, barley, grain and diced up vegetables and predators are pretty much not an issue the way they are confined (still plenty of room to run around). Recommendations for nutritional food or native edible plants most welcome and we will do our best to feed them. Adding some shelter periodically where they are nesting at night. We do not want to raise them period! Having them imprint on humans would TOTALLY destroy the purpose of what we are trying to do, we want them as independent as possible so this will be a stage by stage process. We do not want pet ducks! Like Spooks tagline reads "You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." We want them wild, just concerned for their safety at this point.

I am really not sure what type of duck they are, most likely not grey if it is rare. I will take a couple of photos. One drake turned up with one of them as a pair just prior to the ducklings arriving so figured they were scouting out the place and has since showed up a couple of times but has not stuck around for long. Both of the females have flown off at various times , even during the night only to return at dawn or a short time after leaving (didnt think ducks had great night vision so surprised that she left her brood and flew off during the night).

Personally I feel awkward even interfaring and keep thinking perhaps should have just left them to it but at least we know all ducklings will survive this way I am just unsure of the quality of life they will have once they can fly having been fed by us and not doing their thing in nature. Are we doing the right thing? I dont know sometimes.

Will add a couple of photos and thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.

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11 years 7 months ago #438382 by Awaken2Infinite
Just noticed 2-3 hawks flying up above so put up a tarpoline for some shelter for them. Anyway heres the pics, whatever sort they are. The one closest is the first duck that arrived. One of the ducklings looks kind of albino.

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11 years 7 months ago #438391 by Hawkspur
Congratulations and thanks for your efforts to give these ducks safety without taming. :)

The NZ grey duck is rare and the mallard interbreeds with it. The grey duck colouring is the same for both male and female, and very similar to a female mallard, so it can be hard to identify grey ducks. Signs that it is a grey duck rather than a mallard, are:
  • - very distinct stripes on the side of the head: a black top to the head, a black band across the eyes, and from the base of the bill, and cream stripes above and below the eye. The female mallard has a subtle stripe in the same place, but in light and mid brown, and speckled rather than solid colour.
  • - The speculum colour (a splash of bright colour on the rear edge of the wing, sometimes hidden when folded) on the wing is green in the grey duck and blue in the mallard,
  • - no white on the front edge of the speculum, and a faint white rear edge to the speculum in the grey duck; thick white speculum front and back edges in the mallard.
  • - grey bill and legs in the grey duck; yellow/orange for the mallard
  • - grey tail in the grey duck; brown/cream for female mallard
Many birds will be hybrids with an appearance somewhere between the two.
The grey duck is one of the few endangered birds that can be hunted - probably because it is hard to identify, which is rather sad.

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11 years 7 months ago #438392 by spoook
Mallards, they will need water to dabble and swim in.
The roaming around is to teach the young where to get food.

They could be rehomed but...... you may only be moving them to another set of predators.

There are no bad questions only those that are not asked.
"You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed"

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11 years 7 months ago #438507 by Anne
Replied by Anne on topic Relocating ducks and ducklings
Definitely mallards, and without much outcrossing.

Don't worry about their ability to look after themselves if you feed them now. Mallards regularly join domestic flocks for the easy pickings. They are pretty versatile birds and well able to look after themselves in a variety of settings.

I'd often raise mallard ducklings alongside domestic ones, with no mother duck to provide "mothering" and they would grow up fine and fly away when they got big enough.

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11 years 6 months ago #440598 by Awaken2Infinite

Hawkspur;437668 wrote:
The grey duck is one of the few endangered birds that can be hunted - probably because it is hard to identify, which is rather sad.


I guess that would explain then why I recieved no replies to my emails tothe nz duck site I asked for help after saying they were most likely mallards. If they were of another breed I am sure they would have at least replied.

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11 years 6 months ago #440600 by Awaken2Infinite

spoook;437669 wrote: Mallards, they will need water to dabble and swim in.
The roaming around is to teach the young where to get food.


They are getting larger and we have had some problems and are concerned that they will rely on people for food as they have become conditioned to us feeding them now. The females are still sticking with them and very protective, even against humans and the hedgehog that somehow made its way into the area last night. Am hoping they will fly off as one group and be able to feed themselves as the adults are still with them but am concerned after reading this article that we could be damaging their digestive systems. Can anyone shed some of their thoughts on this article?

www.buzzle.com/articles/what-do-ducks-eat.html

"...when one brings home a baby duck it cannot survive in the wild when released and cannot eat food like its wild counterparts. Similarly, a wild duck cannot be just brought and be domesticated and fed what humans eat. Many people do this mistake of bringing home cute little ducklings and cannot maintain the poor bird. They are just released in the wild that eventually leads them to their untimely death. A few lucky ones end up at an animal shelter and may survive."

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