I went to the park today, and I just could not believe how many ducks were there. Ducks, big deal! It's a park. Ducks are ducks, right? Unfortunately, not all ducks are created equally. Domestic breeds such as Pekins, Rouen, and Muscovy are too heavy in body to migrate, and ducks raised by people do not always have the knowledge to forage. Mallards, on the other hand, even some raised in captivity, have the instinct to migrate. It is sadly almost impossible to tell the difference between Rouen ducks and Mallards, making it legally more difficult for those of us who would like to rescue them.
It's almost that time of year when feed stores will be obtaining ducklings. I would like to help spread information about what happens to those cute little ducklings that are bought by people who just want a cute pet. I'm not saying people shouldn't buy ducklings and have a small flock, but for people to PLEASE research what they are getting in to. The most common reason ducklings are sold/abandoned at parks is they are messy! MUCH more messy than chicks, and they can be a lot of work to clean after and care for. Hens produce a loud quack that can become irritating to neighbors, and possibly the household residents. In adulthood, ducks can destroy a small lawn, leaving holes and dirt patches.
Most of the ducks at parks are domestic breeds that were put there, and I guarantee it wasn't done by the city. These breeds include, but are not limited to, Pekin, Muscovy, and Rouen. These are just a few of the breeds I saw today at Bobby Ferguson Park.
These abandoned fowl have to compete for food, leaving the wild ducks unable to find enough food to energize them the rest of their migration. They mate with the wild breeds, leaving offspring that are too heavy to follow in their wild mother's wake and unable to fend for themselves.
The Pekin I saw was badly handicapped to the point of inability to walk properly without using her wings as crutches. She wouldn't have survived if she was attacked by a predator seeking a meal. Granted, such is nature, but these domestic breeds are ill-equipped to survive in the wild. They cannot forage for themselves, and the bread given to them by random visits does more harm than good. Shelter is non-existent. Winter can be harsh, even in our southern states, and there is no relief for them. I had been given specific instructions by the city allowing me to capture this Pekin, and she is now safely relocated to my own flock, but that saves one. I am trying to save them all the best way I know how.
If you reading this, and you have ducks that are much more trouble than you thought, please consider reselling them instead of leaving them at a park or lake. There are always people willing to take them in. If you can't find them a home, contact me if you are from the Texarkana area, and I will be more than happy to take them in with no judgements.
If you are reading this, and you would like to help this cause, please share! I do not ask for money, nor do I ask to be the first choice to take in ducks. I only want protect helpless ducks from being left and unable to fend for themselves.
Below is a picture of the Pekin described above. If you notice her wings, you will see it is not a natural position. She is using her wings to help distribute her weight and keep her balance. She does not have a noticeable injury, though it is likely due to a Niacin deficiency. I have another hen that suffers from this, though not to the extent of this poor girl. What relevance does this revelation have? She cannot survive in the wild with this condition, yet someone abandoned her at the park, leaving her helpless.