In love with a rescued mallard duckling. Can we keep her?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by BigKitty09, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    Long story, Short:

    We found a day old mallard duckling whose mother was hit by a car near our house. We rescued it and put it into a box under a heat lamp next to our 3 one-month old chicks in the house. She is now 2 weeks old and we have grown very attached to her/him, and prepared to keep her/him and take care of her, but it is illegal to keep migratory birds. Is there a way we can keep her without breaking any laws?

    If you would like to know more details to better understand the situation, this is the longer version:

    Exactly two weeks ago, an elderly woman knocked on our door telling us there were a couple of ducklings on the side of the road in front of our house in a semi-suburban town in Southern California, and their mother had been hit by a car. We didn't want them to wander into the road after their mother so we caught them and put them in a box with a teddy bear under a heat lamp next to our 3 one- month old chicks who were in a separate cage. We looked them up and they are definitely mallards. Their were 4 then suddenly, one by one they would break from the group into the corner then lose control of their necks, roll over onto their backs and die. They had water but we hadn't fed them yet. By the look of them they were about a day old. By the next morning their was only one left, and we tried eagerly to keep him/her alive. We bought non-medicated duck mash and let her rest and she survived. Since there was only 1 left we decided to keep her, and she quickly became very attached to us and us to her. We made her a little pool out of a storage container and find worms for her and plop them in and she would go nuts for them. My mother and I garden and little Winnie just follows us everywhere, crying if she cant see us. The 3 chickens hang around us as well, but only together and though they are very curious about Winnie, it doesnt last long and they walk away and mind their business. Through research on the internet we found out that keeping migratory birds like mallards is illegal. But, people sell mallards over the internet and many have them as pets. I have heard that you must have their hind toe and tip of their right foot and wing, respectively, and tattoo the webbing of their foot before they are 6 weeks of age.

    1. Is this true
    2. If not how can we make it legal to keep her? We did not take her from her mother though we did take her from the wild because she was in danger.
    3. Will she an the chickens warm up to each other? They sleep with each other in separate cages but within sight.
    4. Or, do we need to get her a friend? What gender if she is a girl? or a boy?
    5. We do not live by any lakes, but would like to make her a little pond in the backyard.

    We keep meaning to call a vet but keep forgetting until they are closed [​IMG] Thought it wouldn't hurt to ask and would appreciate some advice from knowledgeable duck handlers. Thank you so much.
  2. stitch81

    stitch81 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2011
    HI, I'm in sort of the same situation. We came across a mallard nest (after the momma met an unfortunate end with a chopper while the guys were cutting hay), and took the eggs and put them into the hatcher. I called our local conservation board and they gave me the name of a woman who could take the ducklings after they hatch. She finds a momma for them and gets them back into the wild. I know you can buy mallard ducklings/eggs, but they are domesticated birds... I know, at some point they started out wild. I was told by the conservation board that what I had done was okay since I was trying to save them, but that there would be problems (legal) if I tried to KEEP them. I don't know if this helps or not, but this is what I was told.
  3. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
  4. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    Awww, that's really sad about the ducklings. It is possible that they got too chilled and were found too late for them to get warmed up. I've seen ducklings that were hypothermic have some of the problems you mentioned. There was nothing you could have done for them in that case.

    It is illegal to care for wild mallard ducklings (or any duckling or baby animal taken from the wild). Usually they have to be cared for by a licensed wildlife rehabber or agency. But, it's not illegal to keep mallards in general. If you want her to be free and wild, then it might be best to take her to a rehabber who will care for her and take steps to get her ready for life in the wild. However, if you want to keep her, then it would be good to get a duck buddy. Like Goosedragon said, try to get a breed the same size or smaller than a mallard. If you free-range your birds, it's possible that she may decide to leave on her own, but there's also an equal chance she may stay.

    As for gender, it's hard to tell until they're a couple of months or more old.

    You don't need a lake, a good kiddie pool or large pan will do. But, they need to be supervised when swimming until they are older.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
  5. un-named

    un-named Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2010
    Also, while this duckling- that you are not keeping but found its way into your yard and is choosing to stay but free to leave at any time -happens to take a dip in your kiddie pool, monitor her and towel dry her to keep her warm.
    It is to my understanding that without a duck mom to get oil on duckling's feathers, the baby cannot produce the needed oil to keep water away from her until the age of 3 months was it? She would get chilled otherwise. Good luck in what you decide with duckling.
    DanJ702 and iWOODDUCKifiwereu like this.
  6. ducks_rcool329

    ducks_rcool329 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2011
    Black Forest, Colorado
    Wellllllll if you really are attached to him/her you could just keep her and say you bought her or something.... [​IMG] But it is illegal, but your not going to go to jail or anything like that.
  7. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    We monitor her everytime she goes into her little pool which is made out of a flat storage container, and we make the water a little cooler than luke warm. If we try to walk away she jumps out and follows us [​IMG] . Also she isn't completely waterproof yet but we can see her trying to waterproof herself with the gland just above her tail. What is the difference between wild mallard ducklings and domesticated mallard ducklings. If we had her at a day isn't she sort of domesticated? Or, is it something that is just in-bred within her that automatically makes her different froma domesticated mallard?
  8. chickensducks&agoose

    chickensducks&agoose Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think that you can safely assume that the mommy mallard was actually a domestic mallard, who had escaped from a farm somewhere (In fact, I am missing a female mallard who flew off last fall, so it might have been mine!) and that it is fine to keep the baby. Actually, I give you permission to keep the baby that my wayward (and sadly dead) duck hatched. [​IMG]
  9. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    chickensducks&agoose :

    I think that you can safely assume that the mommy mallard was actually a domestic mallard, who had escaped from a farm somewhere (In fact, I am missing a female mallard who flew off last fall, so it might have been mine!) and that it is fine to keep the baby. Actually, I give you permission to keep the baby that my wayward (and sadly dead) duck hatched. [​IMG]

    I'm sorry to hear your mallard is missing, but I don't think this is her baby. I appreciate the blessing though [​IMG]
  10. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    Also, what about the removal of the hind toe and tip of her wing? Is that required for domesticated mallards?

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