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Dan Frankian is an accomplished falconer, using his skills to provide a natural alternative to chemical and product driven Bird, Animal, and Pest Control in the Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Area... Read more »

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So, you’ve discovered one or more one day old ducklings in your yard? They’re adorable, aren’t they? 🙂 First, let’s make sure that your 1 day old ducklings are actually alone (orphaned or abandoned), and that mum isn’t simply somewhere out of sight.duckling in meadow

Assessing the Situation

Monitor from a Distance

Generally, ducklings will be close to their mother. For the first few days, Mother Duck will sit on them (brood them) for warmth, especially in the evening and overnight. If you should happen upon a duck brooding her young, please do not disturb her. During the day, you’ll see mum with her offspring following closely behind. Even one day old ducklings are able to feed themselves from the get-go, but need guidance to learn what to eat - or not to eat. If you have been watching those little fluff balls and not seen their mother around for several hours, the ducklings may be in need of assistance.

Safety of Ducklings

The first thing to do if you find a 1 day old duckling... think safety! Let’s put the family dog and cat in the house. If you have, erect an Xpen or other barrier around the wee ones and maybe cover it with a sheet. Even a large box will do for now. This will provide at least a bit of protection from the elements and potential predators while you get ready to have a closer look at the ducklings. It also means they’ll be in one place and easier to pick up.

Assessing the Ducklings' Health

The very first step to assessing a duckling’s health is to observe its movements. A healthy duckling will appear very energetic and respond to any change or happenings in its immediate environment. If your duckling seems lethargic or doesn’t react when you approach, it might be in trouble.

Let’s pick up the wee chick and have a closer look. Consider wearing latex gloves and long sleeves when handling the ducklings. This will prevent any injury to your hands and keep you safe from salmonella bacteria..

Pick up your duckling by cupping your hands around its wings and chest. Please don’t squeeze too hard; they are delicate little critters, at 1 day old. 

Have a look at the cleanliness of body openings. This includes the ducklings’ eyes, nostrils, bill, and its bum. There should be no discharge, excess moisture, or staining. Discharge could be a symptom of a number of poultry diseases.  

Immediate Steps to Take if You Find a 1 Day Old Duckling

Providing Warmth

Young ducklings need external heat because they do not yet have the insulation of fully developed feathers. If mum is absent, we’ll have to step in and lend a hand. In their first week of life, ducklings require a 32C - 35C environment.

If you happen to have a heat lamp, use it. Just be very careful to ensure its safety. Heat lamps are notorious for malfunctioning and even causing fires. If not, a heating pad or even a hot water bottle will do. Place it in the bottom of a box or crate and cover it with a towel. We want to make sure that the ducklings aren’t in direct contact. Also, you’ll have to monitor for temperature fluctuations very frequently.

Another alternative is warm towels. You can throw a towel in the microwave and then place it under the ducklings. Of course, the towel won’t retain heat for very long and you’ll have to repeat frequently.

During the day, sunlight is a free and consistent source of heat.

If you want to go PRO on your duckling care, an electric brooder would be the way to go. Mind you, they’re not cheap - but probably the best option for the ducklings.

No matter which source of heat you choose, please monitor your ducklings continuously. While we’ll want them warm and cozy, we do definitely want to avoid any stress from excess heat. If your chargelings are panting, it’s too hot!

On the other hand, be on the lookout for any draft that will sabotage your efforts to keep your ducklings warm.

Hydration and Feeding

Hydration is easy. A bowl of clean water will do just fine.

Feeding can become a little more complicated. Ideally, 1 day old ducklings should consume a diet of mealworms (or other worms)  and soft plant matter, such as algae. Yuck. 

You might be more comfortable with picking up some commercially available options. If available at your local farm or feed store, go with Mazuri Waterfowl Starter or Purina Flock Raiser. If not, a chick starter (for chickens) can substitute but you will have to add Niacin.

Did you Know?

There are 11 types of dabbling ducks, 7 types of diving ducks, and 12 types of sea ducks that have been spotted in Canada. That's a lot of ducks! Head on over to www.birdadvisors.com to learn more.

When to Bring in a Professional

If ducks or other waterfowl cause a problem in your yard or near your pond, call Hawkeye Bird & Animal Control. ,


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