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San Diego Humane Society

Ducks and Geese: Coexisting with Wildlife

What to do if you find:

Adult Ducks

For advice on injured or sick adult ducks, follow the same guidelines in the sea/shore bird section.

Baby Ducks

If you have rescued orphaned ducklings, they will need immediate care from a licensed rehabilitator who will raise them to be wild and return them to their environment when they are ready.

Because they are usually kept very warm (under Mother) when they are tiny chicks, the ducklings need to be placed in a warm, safe environment while they await transport and care at a facility. This can be accomplished simply by placing the chicks in a tall cardboard box with a 60 watt light bulb overhead and newspapers on the floor.

Do not allow baby ducklings to swim. Please make sure they stay as dry as possible because they can quickly get hypothermic (chilled) and die.

Food & Water

To be safe, do not feed rescued ducklings, improper feeding methods can cause serious or even fatal problems. A shallow jar lid to water may be offered if the ducklings are active and alert.

 Mallards are the most common duck in San Diego
  • Pairs form between October and March and the male leaves quickly after mating.
  • Hens give birth more successfully as they become older.
  • Clutch size ranges from 8-13.
  • Mallards help the economy by providing a large industry for hunting in North America.
  • Females can give a quack called the hail call that is heard for miles to bring other ducks to her.
Ducks in Pools

There are several ways to keep migrating ducks and ducks preparing to nest from taking up residence in your pool or backyard. Discouraging nesting and residency before they occur is easier than solving these problems once they have occurred.

  • Do not leave out food that the ducks might eat.
  • Brightly colored objects floating freely in the pool, such as a beach ball or other floating pool toys discourage ducks.
  • Cover the pool during migration a few weeks during the fall.
  • Ducklings that have fallen into a pool will not be able to climb out with the steep pool edges. Help them climb out by improvising a ramp from the water to the pool edge.

The easiest ramp to build is made from a piece of Styrofoam and a towel. Use a very large bath towel and the lid of a Styrofoam cooler (available at most convenience stores). Wet the towel (to increase its weight) then float the Styrofoam lid at the edge of the pool and drape half of the wet towel over the Styrofoam lid. The other half of the towel should be draped over the edge of the pool. It can be weighted down with a brick if needed. 

The Styrofoam will serve as a floating dock that the ducklings can jump onto. The towel will allow them to make their way over the edge of the pool.


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