Release or not to release?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by DCMuffin, May 4, 2017.

  1. DCMuffin

    DCMuffin Out Of The Brooder

    80
    7
    48
    Jul 11, 2016
    Maryland
    Approximately one year ago, three little day (or two) old mallards were orphaned at a condo I manage. After attempts at finding a wildlife rehab for them, they simply stayed with me.

    They have grown up with our chickens, free ranging in our yard. We have never stopped them from going anywhere and until recently, have never shown any interest. Yesterday, they kept flying up and over the fence. The mama in me opened the gate, shoo'd them back in and they would just turn around and do it again. So, I left them for a bit to see what they would do. After about 15 minutes, they had ventured a good bit of distance through the trees and into the woods.

    I waddled them back to the yard, as it was nearly dark.

    They have lived here since they were hatched but we did not "bond". I was careful not to get close to them, other than being their caregiver. Of course, they are happy here and know their "home", but I feel as though they are feeling the need to venture off.

    My question. Do I release them? Or do I get a hold of them and clip their wings so they cannot? I don't feel right about just letting them fly up and over the fence, leaving them to just walk into the woods (we don't have areas of water right nearby). They will surely meet an untimely death, as we have foxes, hawks, etc.

    If I take them to a body of water (we are near the Chesapeake Bay and have lots of little marinas off small rivers), will they be okay? They know how to forage, they know how to fly and they swim freely here in their pool. I don't want to hinder them, but I don't want to hurt them, either. Could use some advice.

    Thanks so much.
     
  2. Messica

    Messica Chillin' With My Peeps

    113
    23
    58
    Apr 18, 2016
    Minnesota
    I would definitely not clip their wings. Doing so would put you in violation of federal law (Migratory Bird Treaty Act). If they wander you *have* to let them go about their business. That they never made their way to a licensed rehabilitator could get you into a lot of trouble, as would the act of herding them back into your yard. I understand that you meant well, but beyond allowing them to eat feed you already had out for your other birds your hands are pretty tied when it comes to interacting with them unless you obtain the proper federal permits.

    It's not a matter or release or not release, but the fact that you should have never been in even casual possession of them in the first place (it's a lot to know I know, but unfortunately the DNR and US fish and wildlife regulators wouldn't allow you to use ignorance as a defense of how this all played out).
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. DCMuffin

    DCMuffin Out Of The Brooder

    80
    7
    48
    Jul 11, 2016
    Maryland
    Thank you.
     
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    You can take them to a local pond and release them....Its illegal to try and keep them....They are wild birds with instincts in place to survive....Let them go....:)....Nature will take its course.....They will thank you..:)


    Best wishes...

    Cheers!
     
  5. DCMuffin

    DCMuffin Out Of The Brooder

    80
    7
    48
    Jul 11, 2016
    Maryland
    Thanks so much! This is exactly what I have wanted for them since they were babies...we have purposely not loved on them (holding, etc) because we wished knew that the day would come that they would leave. They have always had the opportunity to go whenever they wish, they simply haven't. So, I'd love nothing more than to see them have a happy and fulfilled life on the water :)
     
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed


    Many people here have reared Mallard Ducklings and let them go at a near by pond...They will either survive or perish...Instincts in wild birds are high...They will be happy to be let go..:)...

    Best wishes....Never pets but you helped them on their way to where they belong..:)
     
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I would let them go but not relocate them.

    Lots of good advice here.

    If you relocate them you are dropping them off in another birds territory that they are completely unfamiliar with the environment, thinking cars and kids and sudden access to all the bread.

    All the laws and stuff, so many things to know or don't and differing rules in different localities... Here it is illegal to relocate a wild animal, or release a domestic one (which I know you have tried not to do). So many variables and hard decisions...

    Guess I'm still going with my original though of release but don't relocate!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Mallards fly from pond to pond to pond unless Setting eggs ...You can release them...In the wild they would do the same...In my experience yours will be bachelors or young Hens that will fly off to the next pond...They are far from stupid or need assistance ...Let them go..:)
     
  9. DCMuffin

    DCMuffin Out Of The Brooder

    80
    7
    48
    Jul 11, 2016
    Maryland
    Thanks for this. After a discussion with another rescuer today, we came to the same conclusion. If they head out directly from here, even if it's just into the woods, they know this area and can certainly fly back in if they feel the need or desire. I'll let them make their decision and be okay with whatever that is. Of course, I had hoped (and honestly thought) that they would simply fly on out of here - never to be seen again. But nope...they simply hang out and do their thing LOL.

    You've confirmed my decision to simply leave well enough alone and whatever happens, happens. :)

    Edited to add: Thank you all for your wise and heartfelt thoughts on this. I appreciate each of them. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I volunteered at a rehab center for a while. When they were successful they would release the animals back to their original location as often as possible.

    It will be nice if they fly off and live happily ever after.

    @chickens really is probably correct about them arriving at new locations all the time.

    They may need time to build their wing strength if they haven't been practicing. Many captive birds bred for release are in flight conditioning enclosures while ensuring they know how to find food and such. I might remove the swimming source if they have one at your house to encourage them to move on. Birds are amazing... even the tiny hummer (not all, some species) migrates across the US fattening up and preparing for their epic journey across the entire Gulf of Mexico with no source of feed or rest and one of the highest metabolisms and tiniest of bodies!

    Very awesome when people recognize my sincerity! [​IMG]

    Some of my birds are much slower to venture of into range, so they may also just be building up their courage. Give them time. Sounds like you did pretty good so far! [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by