Rescued ducklings

May 14, 2022 • 9:02 am

There were ten, and one unhatched egg that we’re keeping an eye on (if it hatches, I’ll get it to rehab as well). All hatchlings were in good condition, and the mother was NOT happy at me removing them all from the nest (they’re all in good condition). But it makes me ineffably sad that I had to do this; the alternative was to risk the lives of mother and ducklings by putting them in a pond with four hyperaggressive males who would have driven the mother away within minutes.

Still, I’m up in the lab stifling sobs, distraught that the mother was so upset at me purloining her ducklings and that the babies are motherless . But please don’t tell me I should have done something else, as made a decision that I thought was the best one to keep everyone alive. The mother will survive, and the babies will get superb care at Willowbrook.

17 thoughts on “Rescued ducklings

  1. I’m so sorry for you right now. How impossible that decision was! Of course you did the right thing. Is it possible to think of it as a one time stresser for the mother and the ducklings vs. stress after stress for her and the ducklings if they’d been constantly attacked. Stress is really really hard on mothers and infants, and I am guessing the alternative situation would have been terrible for everyone.

    Also, those ducklings are beautiful and look great, and you’re the exact right person to have stepped in and helped because of the empathy you have for them and the mother. I don’t think anyone else would have been as sensitive or as sensible.

    I hope they continue to be healthy and thrive and that you feel better.

  2. No choice!
    We have a less stressful situation. Robins have once again nested on a wreath by our front door, and now the two chicks are starting to kick each other out of the nest. I think they are a bit too young to fledge, though. So I put a net under it to catch any falling chicks, and I need to re-nest a chick about every day while the mother and other local robins are very upset. Fortunately, I have not been pecked. It shouldn’t be long now. Then the wreath will go.

  3. Thank you for rescuing the ducklings. You clearly did the right thing, though it may have been hard. The aggressive males would undoubtedly have pecked the ducklings to death, which could have been an extended, very painful process. The mother duck has no idea that her babies would have had virtually no chance at life had you not rescued them. You are fortunate to have such a wonderful rehab center nearby that will give them the best care possible.

  4. Sad, but I trust your judgement that this was the best course of action. Can anything be done about the aggressive drakes before the next batch of ducklings hatch?

    1. Also can anything be done to stop mother ducks nesting in enclosed patios? I hope the same duck doesn’t nest there again. Dorothy had 2 broods in one year.

      1. I have told my duck contact in the dorms that if he sees a hen start building a nest on the patio, to destroy it (that is not against the law–not until an egg is laid). This will discourage nesting on the patio.

  5. The ducklings are beautiful. Thank you for a job well done on protecting these adorable creatures.

  6. Good work – glad to see some happy babies there – I think mom is tough – is going to make people earn her respect – nothing easy to do or say here! Glad someone is on the job!

  7. “There were ten, and one unhatched egg that we’re keeping an eye on …”

    That would make a dandy opening line in a work of fiction.

    I’d keep reading that story.

  8. You’re experienced with this by now; drakes can’t change their nature and you know what they’ll do. You have also had too many hectic times saving ducklings from the pond, keeping them warm overnight, getting gashed and parasites to boot! Not only will these ducklings live, but this was much easier for you, the hen and her ducklings; though the mother’s distress would be unbearable.

  9. Good of you to have saved those ducklings, and -for all clarity about my subsequent questions- you should not have acted differently.
    I have some questions though. How sure are we those drakes would have killed them? Are they not all possible fathers? Do drakes routinely kill ducklings? (I’m far from thinking they do or don’t, I simply don’t know). Is there evolutionary sense in killing ducklings you may have fathered?

    1. As JC has an experienced a team duck volunteers, advisors and rehab folks, has been doing this for many years, and has even unhesitatingly jumped into the pond to rescue one poor duckling under attack, I’d say his knowledge and assessment of ducks in peril, is… to quote Crocodile Dundee, “better than average.”

  10. The father, as far as we know, lives on top of an adjacent dorm. All the drakes in the pond routinely attack all hens, so no hen has even dared to go into pond in weeks. Yes, they kill ducklings, but I was more worried about them driving off the mother, which was a certainty. There’s no chance one of the drakes at the pond was the father, and there are often five of them anyway. Remember, it can be advantageoous to kill offspring: lions entering a pride do it routinely so they can father their own cubs.
    I used my judgment based on observation about whether the drakes would attack mom (and babies), as they’ve attacked every hen in the pond. Your questions, particularly the first, are distressing to me. I did my best.

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