mallard ducklings flying south?


In the Brooder
10 Years
May 25, 2009
I've got 6 mallard ducklings I've raised from day old--5 are hatchery stock, one is wild(not sure though, dog brought the day old wild one in)--the "wild" one is 2 weeks older than the others and she's spreading her wings--almost lifted off the ground this AM. My question is: I'm getting pressure from my brother-in-law to put them on his pond so they can see other wild ducks and take off. I told him they aren't ready (since 5 are for sure not ready to fly yet, and the other who is close to flying doesn't seem to want to leave) and quite honestly, I'd love for them to stick around. I've got a warm hen house (with resident hens) and the ducklings seem to be inclined to follow the hens in at night--they go to the house w/the hens, but I've been keeping them in a large dog crate at night. What is the best for these ducks? They come when I call, and are so entertaining to watch and I kind of would like to keep them around..... The bottom line, though, is that I want what's best for them--put them on a pond and let them tough it out? Let them make their own decision and take off from here and join with a wild flock? Advice, please.

Thanks so much!

you cannot release a duck into the wild if it has been kept in captivity for a while it would of got used to being fed everyday and people cleaning up after it. it would just die in the wild.
I understand that--but will the ducklings take off on their own? Or will they fly around here and stay?

Thanks again!
Your instinct is correct--keep those babies home where they are safe and well-fed. Even if they had been taken directly out of the wild and raised in your home, they could not be released into the wild safely, because they have not learned the skills necessary, plus they would not be afraid of humans--a huge problem for a species that is widely hunted by humans. Rehabilitaters who release wild animals do so only with very careful raising and training that involves very little contact between the humans and the creatures they want to release.

So keep your babies home, let them live in the environment they were raised in. You will probably want to clip their wings so they *can't* fly, because they could get lost and not be able to come home, or they might think it's a fun idea and take off only to find out that the wild is a brutal place to live.

Good luck, and WELCOME to BYC ducks!
Thank you!!! I know I'm going to catch grief for keeping them home--but I want them to be safe and happy. Now, can you give me a tutorial on clipping wings? I'm afraid to hurt them! They really bring us much joy and entertainment---we love to watch them. Next summer we'll have to build them a pond--which my husband will actually really love. Thank you for the help and advice!
Not only do they not have the skill set for surviving in the wild, it takes time for new ducks to be accepted by the wild ones. Most likely if you tried to release them into the pond, they will turn around and run after you when you leave. Most domestically raised ducks that I see released usually don't follow the wild ducks for a while and will constantly be looking for and following people around begging to get fed.
I had mallards for years. I never clipped their wings and they never left my property. I do have 3 acres with a good sized pond.I don't know what kind of set up you have. Your brother-in-law is wrong and needs to mind his own business.. Releasing them in the wild is a death sentance for them. Keep them. They are better off with you and sounds like you enjoy them so it is a win/win situation.
This is very true. I raised a single mallard and took him out EVERY day, ALL day long at my lake so that he would be around the other ducks. I took him out daily so that he could forage for his food. By the grace of God a young mallard female who lost her mother attached herself to him and basically helped him learn how to be a duck and be around other ducks. I don't know if he ever would have sought out other ducks had it not been for her! Even as it was, it has been a loooong process for him to get integrated into the duck community. The only saving grace I would say for your situation is that they at least have siblings and other ducks so they aren't used to only people like my duck was.

One of the biggest lessons that I learned in this is that just because he was a duck did NOT mean he would just automatically be accepted by the other ducks. Right now they are going into their strong flocking mode, so if you ARE going to do it, now is the time. Getting him out there was a lot harder than I thought it would be. If you have the way to keep them, then I say go for it (keeping them.) I would have loved to have gotten to keep my baby! It was heartbreaking to let him go, and I still worry about him every day! Good luck!
Thank you so much, everyone! The "ducklets" made a new milestone tonight.... I was shooing the last few hens into the hen house and when I closed the door and turned around--all six ducklings were there looking at me, like, "Where do we go?" They've been sleeping in an extra large dog crate in the horse barn at night, but since they were at the hen house and I was there, I figured, well, why not shoo them in too.... They need to know where it is they are permanently supposed to live.... So.... all but one made it up the ramp into the hen house unassisted, they are a little nervous, and the hens are nonplussed, but they are in the hen/duck house, and they are safe. I'll be up EARLY in the AM to let them out in the yard, the hens will stay in their run, and little by little they'll all get acclimated to one another.... I informed DH that pond building was in his future.... He rolled his eyes, but he knows by now that, well, if the ducks/chickens/horses/ etc need something, they'll get it. Hence, a pond next spring/summer. Right now the ducks have a kiddie wading pool, and I clean it about every other day, and in the winter they'll have to make do with a heated water bowl--and the kiddie pool when and if we get relatively warm days.... I live in NW Colorado and we get COLD. However, my hens have a winter "sunroom", which is basically a lean-to on their hen house surrounded by clear plastic--they can be outside, they can scratch around in the hay I put out for them, they are in the sun, but I don't have to shovel snow and they are protected from the worst of the weather.... I hope the ducks will be okay with that. I LOVE my ducks--- I've seen all your beautiful duck photos and didn't realize what I've been missing... This little mallard "flock" is so fun to watch--and they kept me company today while I weeded the strawberry bed.... We definitely had a great conversation! Anything else I need to know--from treats to winter care? I want to be sure they have the best possible life with me.....
Again, thanks to all who chimed in and gave advice. It really helps!!!! ANd now I can tell my brother-in-law why the hatchery mallard ducklings he released over the years never returned: unfortunately, they simply didn't make it, did they?

Have a great Labor Day, everyone!
Thank you!!!

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