Raising a duck or 2 in your garden pond (Part 1)

Duck, duck….goose! If you have a garden pond, you can raise a pair of ducks or other suitable waterfowl

Do you know the difference between dabbling ducks and diving ducks? Dabbling ducks are those ducks seen face down in the water as they feed. This group includes mallards, teals and the Muscovy duck. Diving ducks are able to propel themselves under the water and are great swimmers. This group includes pochards and scaups. Waterfowl are small to medium sized birds with similar physical characteristics. They have webbed feet, waterproof feathers to keep them insulated in the water, short bills and long necks. Swans, geese and ducks are all waterfowl.

10 tips for keeping waterfowl (1-5)

1. If you are just starting out in aviculture, choose ducklings instead of adult ducks. Ducklings can be properly socialised and will tame better than adults who may not be used to handling. Ducklings should be kept indoors during their first few weeks, especially if they are being hand-reared.

2. Purchase your birds from a reputable breeder. Never take waterfowl out of their natural habitat and never release captive bred stock back into the wild.

FACT FILE

-INDIAN RUNNER DUCK-

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anas platyrhynchos
ORIGIN: South-east Asia
LIFESPAN: 9-12 years
SIZE: 60-80cm
CHARACTERISTICS: The Indian runner duck does not have a typical duck shape. He looks ‘wine-bottle’ shaped and is graceful and symmetrical, with a long, narrow neck. He moves with a running gait. Runners come in a variety of patterns and colours, including pure white, off-white and fawn.
TEMPERAMENT: A mild-tempered duck who is easy to handle. The breed has plenty of energy with a delightful character.
GENERAL CARE: Although a waterfowl species, they spend plenty of time on land foraging, but they do require a pond for swimming. They do not perch and will sleep on the floor of their night enclosure – this must be secure. They don’t enjoy being disturbed and may become erratic if cornered.
DIET: Commercial duck pellets are formulated to keep ducks healthy. Supplement the diet with occasional grains and greens.

3. Waterfowl are generally social birds. They don’t enjoy being on their own, so if you are going to keep a duck, get a pair. Never overstock your pond either as this can lead to health problems.

4. Waterfowl need outdoor space, shelter from the elements and predators and a place to swim. Also consider other animals on your property. Your dogs may chase the ducks, so place them in an area away from the dogs.

5. Ducks can destroy garden plants. Many species enjoy foraging for insects and worms. They may uproot plants as they probe with their bills.

FACT FILE

-AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL-

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anas crecca carolinensis
ORIGIN: North America
LIFESPAN: About 10 years
SIZE: 270-350g
CHARACTERISTICS: The green-winged teal is a tiny duck. The breeding adult male is beautiful, with a chestnut coloured head and a hunter green patch over the
eyes. His body is lighter grey with patterns of white, brown and a patch of green on the wings. Juveniles, non-breeding males and females are less striking in brown. The females have a white stomach and chin and a small patch of green on the forewings. Teals are able to fly.
TEMPERAMENT: An active, agile duck. Compatible with other waterfowl species, but they are small and larger waterfowl may harass them. Although a common species in North America, they are often overlooked in aviculture.
GENERAL CARE: The green-winged teal nests on the ground, so provide some ground level nesting boxes if you want to breed.
DIET: Commercial duck pellets, along with grain, greens and occasional bread.

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