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Ducks imprinting on a "home"?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

How do ducks decide where their "home" is, where they'll lay and return to at night?

 

I have a trio of Khaki Campbell's who were living in a box (in which they were locked every night) all last summer/fall down by my stream.

 

Over the winter I left them in a chicken tractor in a friend's garage.

 

Just this weekend they came back and I assumed they'd have decided the chicken tractor was home so I put that in the yard (not near the stream).  They all flew the coop on me today while I was feeding and egg gathering and I assumed they'd return to the new "home" in which they have been living all winter.

 

I suppose one of them heard the running water and they all wound up down splashing around in the stream. 

 

Not to take chances with them disappearing into the woods forever I went down to try to herd them back up the hill but they went almost straight for their last year's box. 

 

 

Now I'd like to get them back up in the yard permanently where I can keep an eye on them, but at this point I don't know which "home" they'll want to come back to or really where to go from here. 

post #2 of 7

Duck's decision processes can be kinda mysterious to me, but often I have read on the forum that when they are moved, it takes a couple of weeks for them to get with the program, and that it's good to confine them near their new home base.  

 

I would not lock them into the tractor the whole time - but I would set up some fence and keep them near it, and I would have parties with them right there - peas, lettuce, mealworms, the whole spread.  That's so they will associate good times with the new setup.

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amiga View Post
 

Duck's decision processes can be kinda mysterious to me, but often I have read on the forum that when they are moved, it takes a couple of weeks for them to get with the program, and that it's good to confine them near their new home base.  

 

I would not lock them into the tractor the whole time - but I would set up some fence and keep them near it, and I would have parties with them right there - peas, lettuce, mealworms, the whole spread.  That's so they will associate good times with the new setup.

 

My thought was that since they're in the same nesting box that they've been in since December they'd go back to that.  With them wandering so far off I wasn't going to chance them not making their way back to the tractor, it's well out of sight of the stream and their last year's nesting box. 

 

As far as associating me with "good times" I've got nothing to offer them over playing in the stream and they generally fear me like the devil himself.  I'm afraid now that the cat is out of the bag as far as the location of the stream I'll never keep them away from it, the big wildcard is whether they'll return to at least one of their "homes" every night... I don't think they'd last long exposed around here and I did want them to find the stream eventually so they can play and forage down there.

 

My plan was to keep them penned up in the tractor and only let them out about an hour before sunset and try to herd them back in at night, for a while (like I train my chickens to learn home), but they all escaped early in the day and the yard is so muddy I couldn't outrun them.

 

I wonder if the mallard gene in them allows them to come back from a warm winter home and remember their old nest from last year? 

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well, they all scattered this morning again, so as far as I'm concerned they're on their own and can fend for themselves.  I'll leave food where I want them and if they think they can find a better option elsewhere  and  want to turn feral, I'll treat them as such and hunt them down for what meagre meat they can provide and try again with another batch.

 

 

Edited by Staff

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by AA Maple View Post

Well, they all scattered this morning again, so as far as I'm concerned they're on their own and can fend for themselves.  I'll leave food where I want them and if they think they can find a better option elsewhere  and  want to turn feral, I'll treat them as such and hunt them down for what meagre meat they can provide and try again with another batch.




They're ducks. They're waterfowl. They're going to be attracted to water. They're not doing it to spite you or make you angry; they don't possess the mental capacity to have such understanding. They act on instinct alone, and their instinct directs them to water.

As the owner, it is your responsibility to keep them on your property and confine them where you want them. If you don't want them in the stream, try putting up a fence. My neighbor's have a pond that my ducks have not discovered yet (and I hope to keep it that way), but because I know they easily could find it, they only free range under my supervision. Yesterday, my neighbors had the fountain on in their pond and my ducks were naturally attracted to the sound of splashing water and started wandering away. But I did what a responsible owner should do and herded them back home before they discovered the pond. If you don't have time to supervise your ducks and don't want them to stay in the stream all day, please invest in a fence.
So this is where my John Hancock goes? Oh wait, John Hancock? Pffft...it's Herbie Hancock ;]
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So this is where my John Hancock goes? Oh wait, John Hancock? Pffft...it's Herbie Hancock ;]
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post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PotatoWaffles View Post




They're ducks. They're waterfowl. They're going to be attracted to water. They're not doing it to spite you or make you angry; they don't possess the mental capacity to have such understanding. They act on instinct alone, and their instinct directs them to water.

As the owner, it is your responsibility to keep them on your property and confine them where you want them. If you don't want them in the stream, try putting up a fence. My neighbor's have a pond that my ducks have not discovered yet (and I hope to keep it that way), but because I know they easily could find it, they only free range under my supervision. Yesterday, my neighbors had the fountain on in their pond and my ducks were naturally attracted to the sound of splashing water and started wandering away. But I did what a responsible owner should do and herded them back home before they discovered the pond. If you don't have time to supervise your ducks and don't want them to stay in the stream all day, please invest in a fence.

 

Yeah, I'm going to blow hundreds of dollars on fencing for a handful of eggs minus the cost of feed.  No thanks. 

 

If I could catch these monsters and get them all back in the tractor they'd just stay there until I knew they'd come back at night.

 

 

 
Edited by Staff
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Update.

 

I guess they remember "home" from last year since they were all waiting by their old nesting box just now at dusk.    Honestly I'm really impressed.  

 

It took so long to train them to go in there at night I simply was not going to go through that again... I thought they were just stupid.

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