mallards homing instincts?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by 1duckychick, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. 1duckychick

    1duckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    This morning our cat snuck up on the deck and scared the bejeebers out of our ducks. I'm not exactly sure what happened - if she just jumped up and scared them or if there was any type of WWF action (we were inside) - just heard 4 crazed quackers flapping and running back into the house. DH went outside to see what happened to the other 2 ducks - the mallards - and they were gone, must've flown off.

    There was no sign of blood on the deck or cat so I don't think she actually damaged anybody.

    I'm just worried because the mallards are still pretty new to flying and they've never been this far away from home before. We live in a very rural neighborhood - houses everywhere.

    How good are mallards homing instincts? Will they be able to find their way home or are they lost out there somewhere? They're VERY loud quackers and I've been outside calling them all morning and haven't heard a peep.

    My other females, normally quite talkative, have been silent since "the incident". The 2 males are the only ones speaking but they're quacks are so quiet by nature that they're barely audible unless you're standing right near them. They're a very close flock, never been apart since day 1. When the mallards normally fly off the deck into the backyard the others quack non-stop until they're all back together. I just find it odd that there's not a peep out of them now.

    Anyone have any words of advice or knowledge?
     
  2. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Wild mallards migrate for hundreds of miles twice a year and return to at least the same general area. If they had not spent much time flying around your place they may not have the area in their memory. They left in a panic and probably didn't take notes. JMO but it is probably a case of do they want to go back. Did they leave any friends or family behind? on the down side they excaped attact from a preditor at your place. 3 different times I have had flyers (no mallards) that excaped preditors on my place. One set were back the next morning to stay. 2nd group came back after 4 days but there buddies were dead and they didn't stay, went to a local pond and joined the flock there. The 3rd group ended up on the local pond to but would come back at least weekly and spend time with my flock. when nightly lockup came I would hope they would enter the coop with the flock but they always left in the evening.
    I know this isn't what you want to hear, maybe you will have better luck!
     
  3. 1lpoock

    1lpoock Spruce Creek Waterfowl

    Apr 20, 2009
    Sandusky, Ohio
    I'm taking it these are mallards you raised from babies not wild ones
     
  4. 1duckychick

    1duckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Quote:Yup. Got them the day after they hatched. Domestic breed. Raised along with 4 non-flyers from day 1.

    The furthest they've ventured is a quick flight around the property and a little over the neighbors yard. It's not like there are any ponds or lakes close by. How far off would they go? I'm not even sure if they're together or if they took off in different directions.

    I'm quite bummed. The rest of the flock don't seem too happy either. I've never heard them so quiet.
     
  5. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Yup. Got them the day after they hatched. Domestic breed. Raised along with 4 non-flyers from day 1.

    The furthest they've ventured is a quick flight around the property and a little over the neighbors yard. It's not like there are any ponds or lakes close by. How far off would they go? I'm not even sure if they're together or if they took off in different directions.

    I'm quite bummed. The rest of the flock don't seem too happy either. I've never heard them so quiet.

    Quiet isn't good It means your mallards are out of quacking range. Otherwise they would be calling back and forth.
     
  6. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    In my experience, if they don't come back within an hour they usually don't come back. Now that doesn't mean that yours won't come back! You never know what will happen, the homing instinct is strong.

    How many ducks do you have? Whenever my female Mallard flies off she will fly several hundred yards away, then come back. My male never goes that far, and begins waddling back almost immediately. I think it's because I have so many other ducks, they don't want to leave them.
     
  7. 1duckychick

    1duckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Well, they are HOME! I spent the day walking around the neighborhood "quacking" until they each answered. They were in 2 different areas about 4 blocks from each other, each 2 blocks from the house.

    When I found them they were each freaked out so I sat down and talked to them and they walked over cautiously. When they each got close enough I grabbed them and carried them home.

    It was a day long event but it was worth it! My lil lost babies are home safe and sound!
     
  8. catiecutie 123

    catiecutie 123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2009
    Thank goodness! [​IMG] Glad you found them! Keep a close eye on that cat of yours from now on... [​IMG]
     
  9. 1lpoock

    1lpoock Spruce Creek Waterfowl

    Apr 20, 2009
    Sandusky, Ohio
    Thats great news...i cant believe a mallard walked over to you and let you pick it up...even when you raised them from ducklings!
     
  10. 1duckychick

    1duckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    Quote:It took time and strategy! The first time we found one of them, she flew off before I could grab her. When we found the second one a couple hours later I worked out a plan with my kids. A couple of curious/fascinated neighbors also pitched in.

    I sat down and "quacked" to her for a few minutes to calm her. Then my two kids and the neighbors took turns taking a couple slow steps closer to her so she kept inching closer to me. As soon as she was close enough I grabbed her. She flapped like crazy at first but as soon as I pulled her in close to me and talked to her she calmed down and let me carry her home.

    The second one was a little easier - we used a bowl of peas!

    I've held and carried all my ducks since day one. They've figured out that whenever I carry them, it's usually for something "good" (with the exception of "cuddle and kisses" time! - that's only "good" for ME!) so they begrudgingly allow me to pick them up - after the proper amount of initial protest of course!
     

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