Originally Posted by Jujubeans2008
I got my ducklings as new hatchlings and they loved being held, and cuddled. When they hit the dreaded three week mark, everything changed. They are about 5 weeks old now, and HUUUUUGE. When will they get out of the "scared" stage? I miss how the duckies used to actually love me, and now it seems like they don't even want to tolerate me. :(
I was heartbroken when my Runners went through this.
I got some good, caring advice here on the Duck Forum. Spoiler: it took a long time (a few months) but I have an extremely friendly flock, a few huggers, and no one likes being picked up.
What I learned here:
Do not just appear out of nowhere. Make some sweet noises as you approach the brooder.
Try to approach as low as you can go (I literally crawled into sight - I have no pride when it comes to my ducks)
Avoid cornering them. For me, this meant that instead of picking each one up and putting her in a box to go outside or to tub time, we herded them into the Limousine (a converted dog crate, with one inch plastic poultry fence all around it so they would not stick their heads out in transit.
Spend quiet time near them
Be patient. Really, really patient.
One day, I could clean the brooder with them in it. Next day, they acted like they thought I was an axe murderer.
So, I started letting them out of the brooder, into the hallway (!!!) while I cleaned up. After cleanup, we had a pea party in the hall. Then we walked back into the brooder (we meaning the ducklings). Eventually, the flock began to follow me from a safe distance into the bathroom where I scrubbed up their dishes. One of my favorite photos is of eleven nearly-grown ducklings with me in the bathroom. It was a transcendent experience, truly.
Over time, they warmed up to me again. And going into our seventh year together, they are as sweet as ever.