Raising an orphaned wood duck

iWOODDUCKifiwereu

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2017
20
26
39
So, this past Memorial Day weekend we were at a friends house not far from us and my 9 and 12 year old boys were playing in the front yard. A woman came walking down the street and said that she saw a little duckling run across the street and under the house next door. My 9 year old laid some crackers out around the hole the duckling went into and several minutes later he came back to my wife and I in the backyard with the little duckling in his hand.

At first sight I thought it was a Mallard, but then after holding it and seeing the claws on it's feet I realized that it was a wood duck. The end of May and beginning of June this year has been a cold one and the duckling felt VERY cold to the touch. It really didn't do much moving around at first, but after my wife warmed the little one up for about 45 minutes or so, it started to twitter and become active. We had no idea how old it was, but after having done some online searches, we seem to think that it had either just hatched that day or maybe the day before. It was not eating. At first we were worried about that, but then found out that it was probably not hungry as it was still running on yolk sac so to speak.

We spent the rest of the day at our friends house. No other ducks came around and we were about a mile from the nearest body of water, with busy traffic on the local roads. With the temperature in the 50's, we didn't really hold out too much hope that the duckling would make it if we were to leave it be, so we made the decision to care for it at home.

My in-laws live not too far away and have raised ducks, so we were not without some experience to draw from. My wife and I don't consider ourselves to be (too) stupid. With that said, we immediately searched the internet to find out how to care for this little guy. I went to the local Tractor Supply Co. and picked up a bag of MannaPro Gamebird Starter, a large rubbermaid tote, a very shallow dual food/water dish, some aluminum screening, a domed reflective drop light, some puppy pads, a stack of cheap wash cloths and small towels, a thermometer, and a mirror.

I cut out a large rectangular hole from the lid of the rubbermaid tote and secured some aluminum screening to cover the large hole to make a brooder. We use puppy pads on the bottom of the tote to soak up any water that will spill and any watery poop as well. We put a shallow gladware plastic container with a dry wash cloth in it in our makeshift brooder, for the duckling to lay down in. My 6 year old daughter "donated" one of her small beanie babies (an owl) to keep the duckling company. The duckling likes to lay on it, but has never pooped on it! We also have a small box on it's side with a dry wash cloth in it for the duckling to hide in. It seems to like the mirror too. We had read somewhere that since it's just one duckling, the mirror will make it think there is another duckling there as well and won't be as lonely. However, we take the duckling out often to be with us....generally cuddling as it is still small.

After the first day or two it started eating and drinking just fine. My wife set the duckling on our dining room table and laid out the food and water. She sprinkled the food in the water and it started to "forage" for it. After doing that a few times over the next couple of days it started to eat the food right from the dish. We've fed it fresh fruits and veggies too and it seems to like it all. We've had it for 11 days now, so by the coming weekend (June 10th/11th) we are thinking it will be 2 weeks old. We let it swim (supervised mind you) in our bath tub once a day or so and it seems to love doing it. It peeps very loudly when it's in the water. Not sure if that means it is happy or what. We only let it swim for about 5 or 10 minutes at a time so as not to have the duck get too tired or cold. I've only had it swim in lukewarm water just so it doesn't get too cold. After that we take it out, dry it off, and either put it back in the brooder under the lamp or we cuddle with it. It is very cuddly and seems to like to go to any one of us in the house. My guess is that it just wants to be warm....but it doesn't hesitate in the least with jumping into our hands. Last night I held it gently in my hands while laying down for almost an hour. We don't let my 6 year old hold it just yet. We let her cuddle it on our bed, but not to hold and walk around as the duckling is a fast mover and we wouldn't want her to drop it or squeeze it too hard. The older kids are extremely gentle.

So, at this point I think we understand that the duck has now imprinted on us. We had no intentions of removing a wild animal from the wild, but that is just what we have done. Although my instinct tells me that the duckling would probably not have survived through the night, but us humans....we think we need to intervene, so that's what we did. "I just couldn't let it die", said the man who is breaking the law and could have the duckling taken away by State Fish & Game and possibly fined if found out. This is my worry.
 

Granny Hatchet

Tastes like chicken
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Sep 26, 2013
145,412
231,040
2,037
madison Indiana
What a wonderful story ! Good for you for saving the duckling. Sounds like you are doing everything right. People own wood ducks and sell them. I think if you "bought" the duck and your allowed by your city to keep fowl I dont see the problem except it might need a buddy ;)
 

StarCreekFarm

Chirping
5 Years
Jun 13, 2014
39
6
54
What a wonderful story; one lucky wood ducky. Perhaps it's not wild. I'm betting someone was returning from the wood duckling store Granny Hatchet describes and accidentally dropped one of their purchased ducklings in front of your house. I'd call up Wood Duck outlet and order a couple more.

BTW, I spit coffee on my keyboard when I saw your user name.
 

iWOODDUCKifiwereu

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2017
20
26
39
Thanks Star and Granny! We're definitely learning as we go along here. It took me a few to think up the username....glad it made you both laugh!
 

iWOODDUCKifiwereu

In the Brooder
Jun 8, 2017
20
26
39
Here are a few pics of our wood duck.
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