Help! I found a...

Duck or Goose

Please read the information below and Contact a Permitted Category II Wildlife Rehabilitator if you need further advice or help.

Excerpted from Ohio Wildlife Center's website:

Most waterfowl lay their eggs away from water. They are capable of laying large numbers of eggs (12-14), which they incubate for about 28 days. After hatching, the mother leads the chicks to water on foot, which may be up to a mile away. Because they often have such a long hike to reach water, it is possible for healthy individuals to get separated from the rest of the group.

General tips for reuniting waterfowl: Contain the infant(s) securely and transport them to the nearest water source. Look for an adult with infants of the same size and species. If they are spotted, set the container with the infant(s) nearby and move back to observe from a distance. Allow the infant(s) to call to the rest of the group. If a mother and her young approach the container and react positively to the infant’s calls, move the box away from the water, tip the container over on land and continue to observe. Remove the infant from the group if any aggression is observed.

  • Introducing on land will make it easier to recapture the infant if the reuniting attempt fails. Some adult waterfowl will drown unknown infants.

  • Proper identification of infant waterfowl will help:

If it is a Canada gosling: Canada geese usually accept similar-sized goslings without concern for whether it is their baby or not. The younger goslings (yellow down-covered) are coveted by adults; older feathered goslings are not as readily adopted. If the nearest water source does not have a matching family, the search may expand to any and all water sources

If it is a mallard: Female mallards bond to ducklings during the first few days after hatching. After this short period has passed, she and her brood will consider any new duckling an intruder, even if it is biologically related to them. If the mother duck does not recognize a duckling, she or the other infants may pick on or attempt to drown it. Approach mallard reuniting with extreme caution! The best chances of success are with chicks that have very recently hatched.

If it is a wood duck: Wood ducks are “called” to the water by their parent rather than being escorted to it. Though they are particularly secretive, they are fiercely loyal to their babies and readily accept young that are not their own. The babies may be found in a group near their nest, and the mother may be alone waiting at the water. The caller should check small streams and rivers in addition to ponds for her, and listen carefully for her “ooekk” call in response to the peeping of ducklings.

If reuniting is not possible, contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Please remember, humans are not a wild animal’s best chance for survival. It is always better to take extra time to search for parents.