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Mallard Duckling Season FAQ

Unlike songbirds, baby ducks and geese leave the nest almost immediately after birth, and will follow their mom closely. They already know how to find their own food, but still need their families for warmth and protection. Baby ducks and geese can go in water briefly, but because their feathers are not yet waterproof, they can quickly become hypothermic (chilled) if they remain in the water more than a few minutes. If you find a baby duck or goose alone, it is almost certainly just separated from its family.

  • If the baby is separated from the mother and you know where she is, place the baby close to the flock so she can hear the baby and then watch from a distance to ensure they are reunited.
  • If the baby joins the flock and the mother does not reject him, leave the area, the baby is fine.
  • If the baby is rejected, or if the mother cannot be found, call Wildlife Rescue’s Support Centre at (604) 526-7275 or email wildlife@wildliferescue.ca

I have found a bunch of eggs on the ground, what should I do?

The ducklings have just hatched! How long will they stay there?

I have found ducklings alone! What do I do?

Babies are in my pool and cannot get out. What do I do?

How can I prevent ducks from entering my pool?

Can I relocate a family of ducks from my yard?

Ducks are nesting on my roof, what should I do?

Can I feed the ducks?

There is a family of ducks crossing the road! How can I help?

There is a family of ducks on the highway! How can I help?


I have found a bunch of eggs on the ground, what should I do?

If you find a Mallard nest with only a few eggs in it, allow the mother to finish laying all of her eggs (typically 12-13 total). Mallards lay one egg a day, so this will take up to 12-13 days. She will not start incubating her eggs (laying on them) until all eggs are laid, so finding a nest with only three or four eggs and no mother duck does not mean that the nest is abandoned. 

If something does happen to the unfinished clutch of eggs, Mallard hens will make another attempt until they raise a successful brood. 

Once all eggs are laid, she will rarely leave the nest apart from short breaks to feed and stretch her legs. About 28 days later the eggs hatch together. This takes about 24 hours. 

Mallard eggs are unmarked creamy to grayish or greenish buff. There are typically 12-13 eggs per clutch. 

Photo Credit: USFWS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/11856952175

The ducklings have just hatched! How long will they stay there?

Once hatched, the ducklings will stay in the nest for at least 10 hours while they dry and get used to using their legs. Then, usually in the early morning, the female leads them to water. Bad weather may delay this, but the sooner the ducklings get to water to feed, the better their chances of survival. They cannot survive without their mother, and take 50-60 days before they fledge and become independent.  

I have found ducklings alone! What do I do?

The mother duck may have been spooked away and has not returned. Keep the babies protected and wait from a nearby location to see if the mother returns. She will usually return within a half-hour if the area has become quiet again and the threat is gone. She is very protective of her babies and will not go far or stay away for very long. If the mother does not return to her babies within 1-hour, the ducklings should be rescued and brought to Wildlife Rescue. 

Babies are in my pool and cannot get out. What do I do?

Hypothermia will result if babies are in a pool for more than a few minutes. Mother will stay in the pool with them (to protect them) if they cannot get out and it appears as if she is voluntarily allowing them to swim. She will exit the pool as soon as the babies are given a means to get out of the water. Be sure to screen skimmer or filter openings that may trap helpless ducklings with suction. 

  • Raise the water level – Raise the water level by putting hoses into the pool. Once the water is level with the side of the pool, the ducklings should be able to hop out on their own. 
  • Build a ramp – Make a ramp for the babies climb out on. This can be a flutterboard or outdoor cushion secured to the side of the pool. If you use a board or piece of wood, secure an empty pop bottle to the bottom of one end to make sure it floats. Back off and give the ducklings some time. It may take them a while to figure out how the ramp works. 
  • Only as a last resort – Pool skimmers or nets should only be used as a last resort – ducklings will dive to avoid them, and as they get more stressed and tired, they can drown. It’s better to give them the means to leave on their own time.

How can I prevent ducks from entering my pool?

Pool covers are an effective control for uninvited pool guests. They are also safer for other wildlife (baby birds) that may fall into it. Other measure to discourage ducks from pools include; floating alligators or beach balls (they must be moving continuously); sensor sprinklers or sprayers strategically placed; monofilament barriers (installed by professionals); music, radio or strobe lights activated by sensors. Some professional companies specialize in exclusion devices for wildlife.  

Can I relocate a family of ducks from my yard?

Mallard ducks are federally protected, so moving the nest is illegal without a permit. It is unlawful for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks (and other migratory birds) except by permit. We encourage you to let the ducks finish nesting. After the ducklings hatch and the family moves on, you can put up deterrents to prevent them from nesting there again. 

Ducks are nesting on my roof, what should I do?

Ducklings/ goslings can safely jump to the ground from buildings that are less than 2 stories high and if there is no barrier/edge higher than 12cm. If a family of ducks have nested on a building that is taller than 2 stories and/or there is a barrier higher than 12 cm it is best to contact Wildlife Rescue’s helpline, (604) 526-7275. Wildlife Rescue has trained volunteers that can help with these rescues. Mother Mallards may not return to their ducklings if stressed so it is important to contact Wildlife Rescue first before attempting capture. 

Can I feed the ducks?

It’s normal for a female mallard not to eat for the entire incubation period – she fattens up beforehand to prepare. Leaving food or water out for the duck will only attract predators like raccoons or opossums, putting the nest in danger. Once the ducklings have hatched, feeding them unnatural food like bread can cause problems with their growing bones and feathers. 

There is a family of ducks crossing the road! How can I help?

Always consider human safety first– never put yourself or other people in danger to help a family of ducks cross a road. You can help by waving at drivers to alert them to the birds. Ask passersby with pets or children to keep back. Keep a safe distance, and try to gently steer the birds in the direction of the closest pond, stream, river, or lake. 

It may seem like a good idea in these situations to try to catch the family and move them to a safe spot, but this risks scaring off the mother and scattering the babies. 

Remember that crossing roads is a fact of life for urban wild animals, and one of many skills babies need to learn from their parents. 

There is a family of ducks on the highway! How can I help?

Some rescues are best left to the experts, and duck families on multi-lane highways with barriers and heavy traffic may need help. Please contact the non-emergency police line to ask for assistance.


Arctic Outflow Impacts Hummingbirds

The Arctic outflow has impacted wildlife dramatically this season! With a record-breaking drop in temperature across the Lower Mainland, hummingbirds are coming into Wildlife Rescue Association (WRA) in record numbers with cold-induced injuries.


Gull Nesting Season

Every July and August, “Gull Season” occurs in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Gulls like to nest on flat rooftops in Vancouver. To stay close to their main food source of fish, gulls will nest in areas near water. These rooftop sites are typically safe from predators – humans included!


Helping Wildlife During a Heatwave

How can I help wildlife during hot weather?

How do birds stay cool in this heat?

What impact does excessive heat have on wildlife?

How do I know when wildlife needs help?

How does Wildlife Rescue keep its patients cool?


How can I help wildlife during hot weather?

During hot weather events, you can help wildlife out by putting out a birdbath for them to cool off in and drink! Don’t have a birdbath? A shallow dish, such as a plant saucer, will suffice!

For their safety, please ensure that:

  • The dish is shallow enough that the smallest of birds won’t drown (1-2 inches of water is sufficient).
  • Refill the water as it evaporates quickly on hot days!
  • Clean and change the water daily, more frequently if you have lots of visitors using it!
  • Put it in a safe location, away from outdoor cats and other pets, and preferably in the shade!

Offer shade using what you have available:

  • Flattened cardboard boxes (secured so they don’t move in the wind and scare birds)
  • Pieces of plywood (affixed to ensure it doesn’t become a hazard)
  • Rearrange potted plants to provide shade on patios and balconies
  • Umbrellas, sheets, etc.

 

How do birds stay cool in this heat?

Did you know that birds lack the ability to sweat?! So how do they stay cool during these HOT summer days?

Birds have developed their own mechanisms for keeping cool, such as panting, puffing up their feathers, and fluttering their wings. They also like to do what we humans like to do – splash around in the water to cool down!

For wildlife in an urban setting, water and shade may be limited. Help wildlife stay cool by providing a safe, shallow, source of water. Keep an eye out for all types of wildlife seeking water bodies in unusual places, such as pools and water fountains, which can trap and potentially drown the animals.

What impact does excessive heat have on wildlife?

Very few animal species can sweat, so animals struggle to lose excess body heat during extreme weather events. Heat stress can cause animals to have difficulty breathing which may appear as panting, an increased respiration rate, loss of appetite, and drooling.

 

How do I know when wildlife needs help?

Signs of overheating in birds include panting, open-mouth breathing, fluffed-up, and lethargy. Some nestlings may jump from their nest due to overheating, and fledglings may wander away from their parents in search of water. Dehydration is a big concern during hot days. If you find a bird that is easily approachable (won’t fly off when approached), looks sleepy (lethargic), is fluffed up, or has any visible injuries or blood, please contact our Support Centre for assistance.

Signs of Heat Wave Induced Distress:

  • Open mouth breathing for extended periods
  • Gular fluttering (see video of Heron displaying gular flutter)
  • Lethargy
  • Sunken eyes (due to dehydration)
  • Adult birds abandoning nests in hot locations (e.g. exposed roofs)
  • Baby birds prematurely jumping from nests to escape heat i.e. nestling-aged birds that are still fully or partially downy and unable to stand and jump around on the ground (still hunker down on hocks)
  • Young birds perishing in the nest with no obvious signs of trauma

If you find wildlife in distress, please contact our Support Centre at (604) 526-7275. Please be aware that on busy days, our helpline staff and volunteers can have a backlog of calls exceeding two hours. If the situation is dire, follow instructions on this page on how to safely contained an injured animal.

How does Wildlife Rescue keep its patients cool?

Here at Wildlife Rescue, we work hard to keep all of our patients comfortable during these uncomfortably hot days by providing…

  • Splash pools for all patients housed outdoors to cool off in.
  • A sprinkler system set up in enclosures to provide automatic misting during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Manuel misting every feeding round for young patients.
  • Air conditioning and fans for our indoor patients.
  • Shade panels on enclosures to provide a reprieve from the sun!

 


Determining When Baby Crows Need Help

Finding a flightless baby crow is totally normal between late May and July. It does not imply that it has been abandoned or fallen out of the nest. If you come across a baby crow on the ground, stop, take a step back, and observe before intervening!


Help! I found a baby bird!

So you’ve found a baby bird… now what?

Is the bird hurt? Are there any visible injuries or blood? Is it cold, weak or lethargic? Has it been attacked by a predator? If so, call our Support Centre immediately at (604) 526-7275 for directions on how to safely bring the bird in.

If it is not obviously injured, assessing the age of the bird can help determine the next steps. 


Hummingbird FAQ

What are the best techniques for maintaining my hummingbird feeder in the winter? What exactly is torpor and how do I know when a hummingbird is in distress?


Canada Goose Nesting Season FAQ

Canada Geese mate for life and will return to the same location to nest year after year. The lack of available natural nesting sites has resulted in Canada Geese nesting on rooftops, even in busy urban environments. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding Canada Goose nesting season.


Salmonella Outbreak in Pine Siskins FAQ

Wildlife Rescue is currently admitting record-breaking numbers of Pine Siskins showing symptoms of Salmonella infection. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding this outbreak answered!


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