Ducks Updated 6/8/22

My toddler is obsessed with ducks. Any water fowl really.

We have a small pond. I was hoping some geese would over winter here but so far no luck. I’m not sure if anything will show up in the spring, either.

Against my better judgement, I was considering introducing some ducks.

There is a small, coup-like, nesting box structure on the water’s edge already from the previous owners:

How do I go about this?

This is going to sound really dumb, but I’m not sure if I can just introduce a pair of non-invasive species and let them fend for themselves, or if they will need regular care, or what. I don’t have any goals of them being useful or “pets.”

Alternatively, I’d be just as happy to attract some wild ones to take up residence.

I have nothing to add about attracting ducks but like your toddler, I love ducks! There’s something endearing about their squatty little bodies. We used to have a seasonal pond in our pasture and we’d regularly have a family raise their ducklings there. They were your garden variety mallards and I’d see them out poking around the pasture or paddling in the pond.

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DUCKS ARE THE BEST!!!

I am the 31yro version of your daughter… I was duck obsessed growing up and did legitimate research backed essays to the Easter Bunny annually begging for a duck, only to get some BS response about how he couldn’t hop around with a duckling all night without being heard. :rofl: total crock of crap!

Moral of the story… get them now so she doesnt reach her 30s, get her own horse farm and accidentally turn it into a duck farm before her husband can stop her.

The biggest thing for your set up IMO would be a VERY good clean, and make sure it is predator proof. I free range my quacks every day (all 32 of them :see_no_evil: ) but they have a 16x20 fortress impenetrable to any predators that they sleep in every night. I am vigilant about not turning them out before sun up and making sure all 32 are back inside before dusk. No matter how careful you are though, free ranging will lead to some deaths. Hawks are my biggest problem overall. Having a good size pond definately helps keep the fox and coyote attacks down though.

I prefer more “fancy” breeds versus the kind you can get at tractor supply. Id be more than happy to send some hatchings eggs your way if you want the whole experience to hatch your own in an incubator. Any duckling will need to be inside under heat for the first weeks. They could move to be outside in your duck house once fully feathered. Just shoot me a PM if you want some fancy colored quacks to add!

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You need to protect ducklings, even bigger rats will kill them.
I watched as a five year old two big rats catch and drag one of my little ducks right out of their barn/pen thru a hole they dug under the edge of the wire and wood fence.
They were gone by the time an adult came see what all that yelling and noise was.
Not sure they believed me, but one duck was gone, another had one leg chewed on, limped but survived.
After we raised those, I didn’t want any more, chickens and rabbits were enough to care for.

Ducks are very easy to raise and care for, not near as delicate as chicks.
You and your kid will enjoy some.

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I have to ask. Is one of them named Ping?

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Thank you for thinking about native species! If you don’t have wild birds using your pond, it may just need some management tweaks to make it more enticing for ducks. I get ducks passing through mine (mergansers, buffleheads, other travelers) but it doesn’t have a lot of submerged vegetation to entice residents, and I think it’s pretty small (but I’m not a duck, in case that was somehow unclear, lol).

If I were you, I’d first talk to your state dnr to see if there are some simple habitat improvements you could do. That is probably way less work & offers way more benefit to you & your natural communities, than just throwing some random domestics out there.

I focus on aquatic wildlife so I don’t have any good duck contacts off the top of my head, sorry (even tho I guess ducks are usually at least 1/3 aquatic, lol). What state do you live in?

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Be careful your pond area doesn’t get reclassified as a wet land. We filled ours in because that was a real possibility.

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Wow! What great info! Thank you.

We do have a ton of hawks and eagles.

The coup needs to be cleaned definitely, who knows what was in there and how long it has been sitting. I think it is pretty predator proof, or will be with some shoring up. For adult ducks in winter, is something like that sufficient or will they need heat?

I will PM you!

In my teenage years, I worked for a period of time on a dubious farm that raised show chickens (like 3,000 of them) plus show geese, ducks, etc. So I believe it. I’ve unfortunately witnessed all sorts of rat atrocities, none I remember with the ducks specifically, but probably because the rats were too busy eating adult roosters alive in the barn.

I hated the ducks there, but that’s because they were cooped up too many in a pen with a kiddie pool and made a huge mess.

I’ve been pretty PTSD about birds ever since. So of course my kid is obsessed with them. :rofl:

Thank you! I am in Maryland. We are right on the Atlantic fly way in prime water fowl hunting country, so I am honestly surprised I’ve yet to see anything but the occasional heron and the eagles.

I should be careful what I wish for, I could walk out tomorrow and find the whole property overtaken by snow geese. :rofl:

The pond is about 100’x80’, manmade probably 14ish years ago by the satellite history. The seller said it is 20’ deep, which is probably a lie because I don’t think a single truthful word has ever come out of his mouth. There is a meager buffer of overgrowth with cat tails, willow, etc. No phragmites or anything. The water has always appeared kind of muddied to me, so I don’t know how much light penetration it gets for good SAV.

There is an old blind and some broken decoys, so clearly someone at least had hopes of attracting something. I don’t know how successful they were.

Yes, rats, in the city they were white and different shades of gray and really big, on the farm they were smaller, rounder and more brownish grey.
All were murderous critters, you are right.

I like the idea of asking your county agent or game warden about the ducks, they may have some good suggestions.

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Interesting. Personally I don’t think I would mind nor would it impact much, but from a property value/resale standpoint it could be problematic in the future. How or when would that even happen? Satellite? Tax appraisals?

If you strike out at attracting wild ducks, you can often find adult domestic ducks for free or cheap on your local poultry focused FB group. LOTS of people buy in to cute bitty baby birds and get overwhelmed at taking care of the adults (especially if they don’t have a pond, ducks are super messy!)

Ducks definitely don’t need heat in the winter–they’re wearing down coats, after all! :grin: If you do get conned in to the baby ducks that I’m sure are soon to show up at the feed stores, just do a bit of research about their diet. Ducks often develop leg issues due to niacin deficiency if not supplemented properly when growing.

Have fun!

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No agencies are hunting around looking for new wetlands to be classified against the wishes of the landowner. The landowner is the one who brings the property to the attention of regulators, in the form of requests for building permits, subdivision requests, stuff where you need to have environmental surveys done as a part of that zoning process. When the property has a waterbody and/or conditions that appear to be a wetland on the property, and if the planned development may impact that area, the landowner will hire biologists to do a wetlands delineation.The delineation will define the shape of the wetland area, and assess the likelihood that the waterbody falls under federal jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

There’s no question whether your property contains a waterbody surrounded by some wetlands (Cattails are obligate wetland plants). But not all waterbodies are jurisdictional– often if a manmade pond is isolated (no hydologic connection to other waterbodies, streams, marshes, etc. ), it is NOT jurisdictional.

Regardless, even if there is federal jurisdiction, this is not the end of the world or your property values. Even if jurisdictional, you can impact up to 1/2 acre of wetlands using a very simple “Nationwide” permit.

Can you get away with just filling the pond without doing any paperwork at all? Maaayyybe. Private landowners quietly break all sorts of laws, and this may escape notice as long as they’re not seeking any permits or otherwise attracting regulator attention. But filling an 80x100x20ft deep pond will require more than 300 dump trucks of fill (not to mention the contractor doing the grading/leveling will usually need a permit for that). That would not be easy to hide from anyone. In short, don’t try to fill your pond on the sly.

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well not only Ducks but Goats fall into this category,

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Thank you! That makes sense. Having never owned property before, this is all new to me.

I have zero interest in filling the pond. That’s not something I was every trying to do.

The pond is in the far corner of the property so it is unlikely we would ever be permitting a project that involves that space.

That’s a good point about baby bird season coming up soon and people looking to rehome them.

The ducks I cared for what seems like a million years ago were so gross with their own and kiddie pool. Definitely not something I want to add to my life ever!

Aerial photography mostly like Google Earth so satellite or drone or if a neighbor reports it. If you have a wetland on your property it opens a whole new heap of trouble regarding setbacks, livestock impacts, tax classification, etc. etc.

No, having wetlands on your property does not automatically “create problems” nor do us agency folks or anyone else have or spend time browsing around trying to snatch people’s farm ponds. Many details are already well explained above. Generally an isolated pond, especially if it was constructed, on private property is not going to be jurisdictional, so it will not trigger any permit processes. Now, steps that should be taken for good resource stewardship are another thing entirely, but to my deep sadness, those are entirely voluntary & we can’t force anyone to make good decisions, alas.

@Texarkana, bummer I don’t know anyone who works for MD (the only state on the east coast south of PA where I don’t know any folks, lol), so Iam unable to point you directly at a friendly person. However, I did a little poking & found they have a nice page on their site dedicated to “backyard” wildlife, which includes pond info. I didn’t read any of the fact sheets at this point, so I won’t make any statements about agreeing with them, lol, but it looks like a good place to start. After you have reviewed the pertinent info, I would use their contact links to reach out to them with specifics of your location & situation. The local folks can help you figure out which species to target & what kind of habitat you might be able to offer.

Don’t get put off if a response is a bit slow - if they are anything like us, staff is spread way thin, heinously under funded, and it can take a bit for inquiries submitted to the general agency get routed to the right biologist. But most of us really want to help you, we just have to work through a huge pile to get there.

https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/habitat/wildacres.aspx

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Just wanted to add that several years ago, I was on a trip and I stayed in a hotel that had resident groups of ducks and squirrels. I started feeding them and it was clear that the ducks were a lot smarter than the squirrels. :laughing:

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