The first ducklings ever under the care of your Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s (RCHS) San Diego Wildlife Center (SDWC) were released on Friday, May 25th at Guajome Park in Oceanside. They were transferred to SDWC on April 6th from Project Wildlife. At SDWC they stayed in a heated enclosure, ate specially formulated food, and had supervised swimming lessons before being moved to an aviary. Then came the day they were ready to start their new lives with other ducks.
This is going to become a pretty common thing in the future. SDWC Director Trish Jackman says, “There’s an explosion of ducklings separated from their mothers during this time of year. These ducklings were about one week old when they arrived. We kept them warm, fed them a special food designed for waterfowl, and gave them supervised swimming lessons in a shallow pool. If it’s not done correctly, raising Mallards can have tragic consequences.”
It’s not like you can just open the aviary door and let them out. A couple SDWC staff members got here early to catch the ducks. (It ain’t easy. They don’t want to be caught.) Trish says, “We chose Guajome Park in Oceanside to release them because there’s a duck population and there’s an existing food source. We also believe that they were hatched in that area, so it’s the logical place for them to return.”
Trish says part of the job is teaching ducklings how to be ducks. “In the wild, their mothers would keep them safe and warm. They’re not hatched with waterproof feathers. That develops as they grow. Their mothers supervise them to make sure they learn to swim, but not before their feathers are able to repel the water. At the San Diego Wildlife Center, their enclosure had a shallow pool that allowed them to adjust to the water but still stand up. They had limited access, just like their mothers would allow.”
Why go through all this work for a dozen baby ducks? Trish adds, “Our goal is to teach them everything they need to know to survive in the wild, but to make sure they’re not too comfortable around humans. They need to be ducks, not pets. Ducks can be territorial. Even though we’ve done a great job with these ducklings, they still have many lessons to learn.”
SDWC is off to an amazing start in less than two months. Please help.
Here are the first two ducks released.
Then they were joined by two more. One of them thought about flying
away, but opted to stay with his buddies for their last free meal.
After a few minutes they made their first venture into the lake.
As we were leaving, they had already begun to settle in and make new
friends. (Including a passing squirrel.)
They came to us 2 months ago…just a few days old. Now they’re on their own.
Thank you for supporting your Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s San Diego Wildlife Center!