The mallard is probably the most well known species of wild duck, and is common throughout North and Central America, Europe and Asia. It measures about 2 feet long and weighs approximately 2 1/2 pounds. The male is brightly colored with an iridescent green head and white collar around the neck; the female is brown streaked. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic vegetation, but also includes grains, berries, worms, insects and small fish. Mallards can be seen flying in a “V” formation in-groups of 40 to 60. They can fly at altitudes of 9,000 feet and at speeds of 55 miles per hour.
Some mallards are seasonally monogamous, although the male leaves before the young are born. They build ground nests near waterways, digging shallow depressions into the earth which are then lined with grass and feathers. Eight to 12 eggs are laid and hatch between March and July. The young leave the nest soon after hatching, when they are led to water. Young ducklings can fly within two months. Their lifespan is between 10-15 years.
Please Avoid Feeding Ducks: Feeding ducks food such as bread can fill them up on food that is not nutritious for them. This can weaken them, making them more susceptible to diseases. They know the best foods to eat and find naturally on their own such as: insects and larvae, aquatic invertebrates, seeds, acorns, aquatic vegetation, grain.
Ducks Landing in Backyard Pools or Ponds
Why it happens: In the spring and summer, males and females look for viable nesting sites near water. They are often attracted to areas that have few other ducks, and then work to defend it, making pools a very attractive water source. The female chooses a nest site within a mile of at least one water source (pool, creek/stream, pond/lake) and then within a few days of her eggs hatching, walks her tiny ducklings to the water. She has an amazing sense of direction, or mental map of the area.
Suggestions to keep the female from nesting:
- Keep a pool covered to prevent duck access as much as possible. Once the birds are there, shouting and waving arms might successfully frighten them off.
- Erect visual repellents that move in the wind: old CD’s or DVD’s hanging from trees around the pool, large helium-filled balloons with eye patterns marked on them, or a large black plastic sheet atop a pole.
Female Mallards and Ducklings in Your Yard and/or Busy Residential/Business Area
**This is very common. The ducklings must stay with their mother for their best chance of survival. Mom knows best!**
- Ducklings in pool: put a ramp in the water. Because they can’t fly like their mother can, they usually need help exiting the water to get to food, rest, and warmth.
- Ducklings and mother in parking lot, or in/on the street: If it’s safe, you can usher them out of the street or parking lot. Mom will continue taking excellent care of them and walking them to the nearest water source.
Important to Know: It is illegal to relocate wildlife (Title 14 California Code of Regulations, Sec. 465.5(g)(1)). Disturbing an active nest is in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Code sections 3503 and 3503.5.
Ducks Grazing on Lawn
Why? Ducks do not usually feed on lawns and other grassy areas unless other food is scarce.
- Mow grass less often. Ducks prefer to feed on short, green grass.
- Clean up birdseed.
I found a duckling
Please Note: It is very common to see a female duck with her ducklings in a busy residential area or street. The ducklings must stay with their mother for their best chance of survival. Mom knows best!
- Ducklings in pool: put a ramp in the water. Because they can’t fly like their mother can, they usually need help exiting the water to get to food, rest and warmth.
- Ducklings and mother in parking lot, or on/in the street: If it’s safe, you can usher them out of the street or parking lot. Mom will continue taking excellent care of them and walking them to the closest water source.
- If you do not see the mother in the area, gently corral the ducklings into a tall sided box with ventilation holes. Secure with a lid.
- Please bring to WCSV during operating hours.
- A Drooping Wing
- Wing(s) held out from body
- Limping or obvious Leg injury
If any of the above factors are present please take the following steps:
- Do not feed, water, or bathe the duck
- Gently place the injured duck into a small box with ventilation holes and close the lid
- Bring to WCSV during our operating hours.