The Majestic Monthly


Issue 11: November 2005

In This Issue...


Where are they now?


Our New Infirmary


A Goose Named Pearl


Lead Poisoning


Bird Flu/Avian Influenza




Get to know your predators: The Great Horned Owl


Majestic Farewell...


The Month in Photos!


Recommended Reading:
Goose Chase


Reader Poll #11

Get to Know Your Predators: The Great Horned Owl

The Great-Horned Owl is found throughout North America and weighs between 2 and 4 pounds, with females being larger than males. Four pounds may sound small, but if you have ever seen one of these magnificent creatures first hand, with its wings open, it is astounding.

Other U.S. owls that weigh over a pound and can be a threat to your waterfowl if they are in your area are Barred Owls, Spotted Owls and Great Gray Owls

Owls are nocturnal raptors and notorious duck hunters. They have been known to frighten ducks into aviary netting and then eat them through the mesh. They will take flying ducks from their night roosts without leaving a trace of evidence behind.  

Protect your flock from owls by providing them a safe night time lock up. Barns or sheds are preferable to aviary areas. Guinea fowl will sound an alarm when any large bird flies overhead but if they are left loose during the night owls can easily pick them right out of their trees. Strobe lights have been used as a night deterrent against owls with varying success.

All owls are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These laws strictly prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of owls without special permit. No permits are required to scare depredating migratory birds except for endangered or threatened species, including bald and golden eagles.

In addition, most states have regulations regarding owls. Some species may be common in one state but may be on a state endangered species list in another. Consult your local USDA-APHIS-Animal Damage Control, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and/or state wildlife department representatives for permit requirements and information.

Majestic Farwell...

Daphnee... You deserved so much better and we wish we could have done more...

The Month in Photos!

Elijah tries out the new pond!

Jezebel & Elijah... true love...

"Hey, where'd my girl go?"

"Oh, there you are!"

Joven freshens up!

Winston & Mr. Pearl

Rescue success! A few new faces!

Look at all our newcomers!

Safe and sound at last...

Recommended Reading*

| Ordering information |

Goose Chase
By Patrice Kindl

* For our full recommended reading list, click here. If you order from by way of our web site, Majestic receives a portion of the proceeds!

Book Description

Her name is Alexandria Aurora Fortunato, and she is as lovely as the dawn. But that is only one of her problems. There's also the matter of those three magical gifts of treasure bestowed on her by a mysterious old woman. And King Claudio the Cruel wants to marry her for her beauty and her wealth, and so does his rival, Prince Edmund of Dorloo. Those are two more problems. And, worst of all, she is locked in a tower, with a grille of iron bars and several hundred tons of stone between her and freedom. Some days Alexandria wishes she looked like a pickled onion.

Clearly the only thing to do is escape — and, with the aid of her twelve darling goose companions, that's precisely what Alexandria does. So begins the adventure of Patrice Kindl's beguiling heroine. Her flight will take her to strange lands and lead her into perilous situations, all of which the plucky Alexandria views with a wry and witty spirit. Here is a sprightly tale of magic and romance, in which those geese play a most surprising role.

Note: Both soft and hardcover versions of this book are being offered as donation thank-you gifts! Please visit our donation page to find out how you can obtain a copy.

Reader Poll #11

Question: What topics/subjects would you like to read about in future Majestic Monthly newsletters?

Voting Has Closed.
Please see next issue for results.

Results of Reader Poll #10

Which book on waterfowl do you most often use/refer to?

Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks by Dave Holderread 58%
The Book of Geese by Dave Holderread 14%
Raising the Home Duck Flock by Dave Holderread 0%
Domestic Geese by Chris Ashton 0%
Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow 0%
Other 28%
None 0%

Contact Us

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249

Our Newsletter

The Majestic Monthly is published 12 times per year. Back issues can be obtained online from our Newsletter Archives.

Where Are They Now?

We would like to do something very special for our December newsletter. If you have ever adopted a duck from us, please send us a recent photo of your new flock member along with a brief update on how the quackster is doing. We have been in contact with many of you, but a few of you have slipped through our fingers and we would really enjoy hearing from you. We are planning to feature all of the ducks we have adopted out over the course of the last year in our December holiday issue and we want to make sure everyone is included.

Please send your update and any recent digital photos to by November 20th. Or you can mail your update and printed photo(s) to:

Our New Infirmary

Our fence building may have been put on hold during all of this rain, but that doesn’t stop us from building!

Our new infirmary measures 8’ x 4’ and is located in the basement of our home. Inside, ducks enjoy soft, clean bedding, food, water and a 10’ x 12’ mirror to keep them company. Ducks requiring specialized care or quarantine measures now have a roomy and quiet place to reside while they await their transfer to the barn.

A Goose Named Pearl

This letter came to us in response to our article on Hardware Disease in our October newsletter. We wanted to share this with everyone. Hardware Disease is a major cause of death in ducks and geese. This letter exemplifies the risks these animals are placed in when they are abandoned to ponds that fall in the range of hunting and fishing. Metal objects are irresistible to ducks and geese. We cannot stress enough the need to routinely check your yards and enclosures for ingestible metal objects and remove them promptly.

Dear Kim:

My husband and I have suffered severely over the past couple of weeks with the loss of our amazing goose Pearl. She was a Chinese Crested goose we rescued from a local animal shelter this past spring. She was one of the nicest and gentlest I have ever known. We found out that she was suffering from lead poisoning after we noticed her seizing while trying to drink water. After taking a blood test, we were informed by the vet that she was suffering from lead poisoning. We proceeded with a series of shots in the hopes of curing her. This was all new to us, but as it turns out I hear it's all to frequent. It's easy for birds to pick up lead fishing weights or bird shot lying around.

I wish I knew the signs earlier; maybe we could have saved Pearl. This is what we did notice though; she walked as though she was tipsy, which we naively thought was a result of perhaps being hit by a car earlier in life since we didn't know her history. She was fine otherwise, until just a few weeks ago when the seizures started. We had her on the shots and helped her through her seizures.

She was doing great after the first week of treatment and we thought she had made it through the worst of it. She was preening again, and sleeping standing up which she had stopped during the time she was seizing. Then things took such a turn, and her seizures returned worse than ever. One day she just wouldn't come out of it. We had to put her down and it killed us. I don't want anyone else who loves ducks and geese like we do to go through this. Would you mind addressing this issue with your readers.

Thank you so much.


Michelle Carey


Lead Poisoning

Lead paint chips and lead shot from guns are not the only sources of lead poisoning. Because so many domestic ducks are abandoned to public ponds, they are in real risk of ingesting fishing gear, such as lead sinkers and lures.

When lead is ingested, it gets into the gizzard and begins to erode. As it erodes, lead enters the bloodstream and stores in the duck’s body.

  • Test your water

Have your pond and any water sources your ducks will frequent tested for lead toxicity prior to building your pen around them or allowing your ducks access to them. If lead levels are high, you can often consult with the testing company or a local university about remedying the problem.   

  • Test Your Soil

Have the soil of your pen site tested. If lead levels are high, you will not want to build your duck pen there. It is wise to test your soil before building your waterfowl enclosure to avoid any issues down the road.

  • Symptoms

A duck suffering from lead poisoning (confirmed by a blood test) may exhibit seizures, weakness, weight loss, drooping wings and bright green diarrhea. It can also lead to reproductive problems and increased susceptibility to disease or infection.

  • Treatment

Even when lead poisoning is discovered in very early stages, it can be difficult to remedy. Lead needs to be removed from the system with the aid of laxatives and a round of shots. If not discovered in the very early stages, euthanizing is most likely the course of action your vet will recommend to avoid any further suffering of the animal.

Surgery may need to be performed if the discernable, lead object is inside the duck, although this tends to be very invasive and equally risky for the duck. Most vets will suggest euthanization as the appropriate course of action. New endoscopic surgeries are proving effective if you can find an experienced vet.

  • Prescription:

Edetate Calcium Disodium (Calcium EDTA or CaEDTA) is a heavy metal chelating agent. It is injected into the animal or given as an IV treatment. So as not to encumber you with complex chemistry, suffice it to say that it will go into your duck’s body and bind with heavy metals. The agent then leaves the body through the urinary tract, taking some of the heavy metals along with it.

Side effects include diarrhea and vomiting. Since it also removes other minerals from the body, excess loss of calcium (hypocalcemia) can result.

Calcium levels should be closely monitored—especially in laying hens, who rely heavily on calcium to produce their eggs. Calcium sources should be removed during treatment and for a couple hours afterwards, and then reintroduced again.

The Truth About Bird Flu/Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is a naturally occurring viral infection among birds. Many wild birds are carriers although they may never exhibit symptoms. The virus can be passed to other birds via saliva, nasal mucus and feces. Susceptible ducks can become infected when they come in contact with these excretions, which are commonly picked up at food and water sources or on pen surfaces.

Humans can catch the virus, but it is very rare that they will pass it further along to another person.

Although it has received a lot of media coverage in the past, bird flu is more common in dense populations of waterfowl, not often occurring among pet ducks kept in roomy and sanitary conditions. 

  • Symptoms

Unusual and involuntary movements, swimming in circles, deformation of the neck, lack of interest in food or water, blindness, diarrhea and nasal or eye discharge. Death usually occurs soon after the onset of symptoms.

  • Testing

Your vet can perform a cloacal swab, virus isolation test for the H5 and H7 strains of avian influenza. They will need to send the sample to a state approved, regulatory lab. It usually takes about five days to receive test results.

  • Prevention

The only way to prevent outbreak is to keep your duck in a closed environment, where no wild birds have access to their food, drinking or swimming water and pen. Since most ducks are not kept in a completely closed environment, you can achieve peace of mind in knowing that outbreaks are extremely rare among healthy pet ducks kept in sanitary conditions.


Winter is coming and for those of us in colder climates, it is time to prepare and protect our feathered friends from the cold.

Bedding is a great source of comfort and protection from the cold ground. A thick layer of hay should be refreshed in their shelter at least twice daily. Do not remove old hay unless it is moldy or wet with water. As hay is piled up on top of itself, bottom layers of hay and feces ferment and make heat. You want to continually build a thickening layer of hay beneath the feet of your ducks and geese over the course of the winter (and then do a thorough spring cleaning next year).

When the ground is frozen, ducks and geese should have access to their dry and bedded shelter at all times. Waterfowl can suffer frostbite if left unsheltered and unprotected from the elements. On extremely cold days, do them a favor and keep them locked inside of their draft-free shelters.

Use heated water buckets to ensure water is available to your ducks at all times. If you do not have electricity in your barn, use Duraflex buckets. These buckets work very well because if they do freeze over they won't break. A water source will allow your ducks to flush out their bills and tidy up. All water buckets should be refreshed twice daily for best results.


Give your waterfowl a chance to bathe in a kiddie pool, basin, tub or pond at least once a week, preferably twice a week for best results. Even though it’s cold, they love to swim and it is important that they do so. They need to bathe and preen to properly insulate themselves from the cold. If your duck or goose is shivering, give them access to water.

Do not allow your ducks and geese unsupervised access to pools, ponds, basins, etc that can freeze over in your absence. Waterfowl are infamous for falling asleep in water and getting frozen in. Leaving them exposed to freezing bodies of water can put them in serious risk of frostbite and loss of limbs.

Insulate and draft-proof your duck and goose shelters. If your barn or shelter is insulated, be sure the insulation is not loose or hanging. You do not want your ducks and geese ingesting insulation. If their shelter is not insulated, put up thick sheets of plastic on the walls and then stack bails of hay up against the walls. Be sure the hay is secure and can’t fall on down on top of your ducks and geese.

Your ducks and geese do not have access to greens in summer; do them a favor and add some healthy lettuce mixes (not iceberg) to their daily diet. See our April newsletter for a list of foods to avoid. This will keep them healthy and entertained. As an added protein source and enrichment activity, bring home a dozen nightcrawlers for them to snack on and watch them go crazy!

Use extreme caution when using any kind of heat lamp or space heater. Hay and shavings are EXTREMELY flammable and these devices are the number one cause of winter barn fires. These devices should only be used when they are professionally installed and when instructions and maintenance requirements are specifically followed and adhered to. Otherwise, only use these devices while you are actually in your barn and able to supervise their function. Use them to take the chill out of the air and then shut them off and unplug them before you leave. If you give your ducks and geese access to clean water for bathing, provide them thick bedding, an appropriate level of wall insulation and an environment free of drafts, they should not need an added heat source (unless your climate is extremely cold, maintaining levels close to or below zero).

If you lock your waterfowl up in a barn for the winter, be sure to take them out at least a couple times a week for walks to keep their lives healthy and enriched. Although they tend to prefer the indoors when there is snow on the ground, it is still good for them to get out into the fresh air for a bit of foraging.



       Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with any guidance provided on this website. Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state or municipal law or regulation with which such guidance may conflict. Any guidance is general in nature. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any specific circumstances.

© Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary 2005