Advice on an orphaned wood duck


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 1, 2013
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
This past spring, a friend was fishing and a very young lone duckling was in the water where he was wading. It swam up to him and was completely alone. He brought it into work knowing that a coworker and I both had chickens. I took it home and raised it with some other peeps. We thought it was a mallard (based on looks and probability for our area), but it turns out that the duckling is a wood duck! I still have her in a trailer in our yard with another young pullet. I never planned on keeping her, but I am not sure how to go about releasing her with the best chances for her adaptation and survival. I know woodies migrate (and are doing so very soon here in south eastern PA) and my concern is that since she has been in a relatively confined space, she hasn't developed enough wing muscle to fly the necessary distances. She has a small wading pool which she makes use of constantly, but that is of course not the same thing as a full out pond/lake. We have a wildlife management area pretty close that has significant water (Middle Creek Wildlife Area). Any suggestions would be welcome. Here's a photo of the little girl in question.

Take the bird to the marsh area where you have seen wood ducks and release it. Preferably before all the other wood ducks begin to migrate (ie very soon). You do not want to get visited by a Fed warden for having that bird either.
Perhaps you could keep her until soon after the local wild Carolina Ducks return from their soon-to-occur migration, so that she does not get left behind (she will be more physically mature by that time as well, meaning that she might be able to breed by that time). I know that doing so is illegal, but I find it difficult to believe that anyone will heavily fine you for keeping a rescued native bird in suitable living conditions.

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