I tried to search the forum, and read up a bunch before posting, but I figured this one might deserve it's own post.
My wife and I acquired two new ducks this past weekend. We have a small flock of three currently (drake + two ducks). Our ducks are extremely well adjusted to us, and are basically as tame as you get. I can walk up and pick up the drake and carry him around. All of our ducks have always taken food from our hands, and even will climb on us.
We went to visit the "new" ducks with the intention of getting 2 additional female ducks - we knew a drake would be a bad idea, and the way I see it, we got so lucky with how tame our drake is now, I didn't want anything to upset him. When we got to the location where the new ducks were, we were a little shocked. The former owner was a super nice guy, and seemed to really care about his ducks, but the ducks were seriously overcrowded - hence why he was selling some. The ducks were remarkably skiddish, even by duck standards. They looked a bit emaciated/skinny and smelt *terrible.*
We took the two ducks (it almost felt like a rescue mission - we couldn't leave them there.)
Due to the fact that they were a bit less adjusted than we originally thought, we didn't want to mingle them with our flock immediately. We gave them an isolated kiddie pool (kiddie pool with a baby gate fence around it so our current flock could see them, but not get to them) and I noticed right away they had "wet feather." The ducks didn't look like they ever had a chance to take a proper bath. They bathed immediately and preened right away for 10+ minutes. The seemed skiddish, but at least they were acting like "ducks." When they got in the water, I immediately noted that their feathers almost instantly were waterlogged. They didn't seem to repelling water properly. I'd never seen this on adult ducks before. I did some research and saw it could be due to mites or lice, poor living conditions, or poor fed. We checked their skin carefully, and saw no sign of these parasites (I hope they don't have them - ew). I am wondering if they had such cramped living conditions that they were not able to preen and bathe properly.
Well, I guess that's some background.... right now, we have the 2 new ducks in a dog carrier where the current flock can see them. They've yet to eat or drink other than bathing and splashing in the pool as mentioned before. They are extremely scared of - well - everything. I'm trying to get them used to us, but they won't even accept food from our hands. They won't eat at all. They just seem petrified of everything. They try to run THROUGH the dog carrier and I'm afraid they're gonna hurt themselves. I left water outside the dog carrier (with a hole large enough for them to get their bills through) with some nutridrench and they didn't touch it overnight. I put food in this morning and they didn't touch that either. I noticed hunter green poops, but maybe that was due to grass they ate when outside in the pool - at least that's what I'm hoping (I know green poop can be a BAD sign). Right now they are still in a large (3 foot by 2 foot) dog carrier with our ducks on the other side of a chicken wire "window" so they can se each other. Our current flock is showing a moderate aggression towards the new ducks (and the new ducks showing it back) - one of our ducks even stuck it's head through the dog carrier, and grabbed the other duck in the breast and wouldn't let go (it was our most timid duck too!) I know we should probably let them "work it out" but I'm afraid the underweight, new ducks will get picked on so fiercely they will get even MORE skiddish. I'd really like to socialize them well, so they know we aren't someone to hate and they at least can trust us enough to eat. They absolutely need to eat food, in order to recover, and the winter is coming.
I know probably the best answer is to give it time, but I'm not sure how long. Do I mingle the new ducks and old ducks? Do I let the new ducks into the old ducks pen for a while so they can socialize for a bit? Do I totally keep them isolated? Both new ducks and the old flock seem to be freaking out with that fence between them. They won't stop staring at each other and trying to get through to each other. Help !