We've got four Khaki females, one mallard female, and one mallard male. We've always heard that Khakis are terrible parents and that the females aren't likely to sit on their eggs, so we never expected to have any Khaki ducklings without incubation. But two of the Khaki females formed nests and did indeed try to hatch out about 15 eggs. We basically left the mommas alone to do their thing (they were in a nesting box within an enclosure, with food, water, and heat) and only 3 of the eggs hatched. Of those 3, one died coming out of the shell (momma threw that one out of the nest), one died some time after hatching (also thrown out of the nest), and one survived long enough for us to realize that momma wasn't really paying it any attention and it was on the brink of death. So I took that baby away from its momma and brought it inside. It's now in a box with food, water, heat, and a small stuffed animal for comfort. My question is whether this duckling can ever be reintroduced to the flock or whether we now need to keep it as a "house" duck. If we reintroduce it, will its momma take it back or will it be a pariah in the flock? And even though it didn't imprint on us right when it hatched, will the duckling become too attached to us to be happy with the other ducks? The little critter has definitely come back to life since we took it in and is playful and curious, so we're assuming it's not too stressed being away from momma. And, lastly, do we need to find another duckling buddy for it or can it thrive as an only child, so to speak? This is our first year with ducklings from our own birds, so any advice welcome!
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If you want it to be more comfortable being with the flock you should buy it a friend so it doesn't forget it's a duck. It may become overly attached to you if it's an only child and may not want the company of ducks, it takes months for my mallard drake I raised solo to accept new ducks in the flock. I don't think the mother will want to raise the duckling so you'll have to raise it and any sibling you get it yourself. The duckling would be happy being solo but you'll have to give it a lot of your time and it'll need a lot of attention from you and like I said it'll probably want your company over the ducks. If your willing to give it the attention and time it needs it could be a very happy house duck but it's all up to you and if you want that.
Thanks for your reply. We've been keeping the baby in the house and she seems pretty happy with the arrangement so far. She's very playful and loves to be held. We're totally smitten. Our mallard hen just hatched 8 babies the other day and we considered putting our rescue in with her brood, but we ultimately decided to be selfish and keep her for ourselves.