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Issue 41: May 2008

In This Issue:

  Six Duckling Minimums
  Gift Card Drive
  Special Thanks
  The Month In Photos
  Recommended Mother's Day Gift

The Month in Photos!

Joseph and his amazing dreamcoat!

 He's comin' right for us!

You're cut off...

She's a beauty!

Majestic Newcomers

Duran Duran (for now...)

If you are a loving family and have a predator proof pen, please consider adopting!  Click here to fill out  our online adoption application.

If you canít adopt, please consider sponsoring by visiting our sponsor page.

Mother's Day Gift

Mom, I'm a Lucky Duck

Product Description

This is a beautiful book dedicated to Mom's everywhere and it features DUCKS!

Celebrating Mom's roles as nurturer, teacher and cheerleader, Elsdale's photographic spreads of feathery fledgling ducklings are perfectly paired with Regan's heartfelt verse.

You are truly going to love this book!

Click here to order.

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

Contact Us

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249

Our Newsletter

The Majestic Monthly is published 12 times per year. Previous issues are available in our Archives.

Six Duckling Minimums & Waterfowl Abandonment

Many states have a SIX duckling purchasing minimum. Unprepared families have no idea the trouble that this will cause them NEXT spring when their ducks are mature. They see the ducklings and buy on impulse thinking: "how cute!" Furthermore, stores sell these ducklings "straight run," which means "unconfirmed gender." The odds of actually ending up with the proper ratio of 1 drake to 3-4 hens is nearly impossible. Since mature drakes will fight with one another, the seeds of the abandonment cycle have just been planted.

The unknowing family often will not discover their new problem until the following Spring when their drakes face their first mating season. Mature drakes will fight and can inflict serious injury on one another and on hens. Too many drakes and not enough hens also leads to the over-mating of hens, which can lead to serious (and fatal) reproductive injuries. Multiple drakes can also easily drown a hen during mating rituals.

Families faced with fighting drakes, will often abandon their "excess" drakes on ponds (usually discarding their alpha drake, who is the most aggressive), which is why there are always more boys in need of rescuing than females. Other families who become overwhelmed by their "minimum six" purchase will abandon any "extras" on ponds as well.

A family wanted ducklings, but only having one pen for their adult ducks, should only start with two ducklings. A pair of ducks will get along no matter what gender they are:

  • If both ducklings turn out to be drakes, a bachelor pad is usually pretty peaceful without a hen around to fight over. If you want to add hens, you will need to build a second pen, so each boy has their own area.

  • If both ducklings turn out to be hens, you can always add one drake and as many more hens as you want (and can comfortably fit).

  • If you end up with a drake and a hen, you have the perfect pair! If you want to add more hens you can easily do so, but you do not want to add any more drakes unless you build another pen.

If you want ducklings, it is smart to start with ONLY TWO, especially if they are straight run. Then, if you want to, you can add adult ducks of known gender to your flock and round it out just the way you envision it.

Keep in mind that each pair of ducks will need a pen that measures approximately 250 square feet. Anything less than this often results in hard packed ground that won't grow grass, which is very bad for webbed feet and leads to foot pad infections and bumblefoot. As it is with a 250 square foot pen, you will probably need to turn over the ground every spring and reseed grass.

Waterfowl Imprinting 

We often use the word "imprinted" when we discuss the connection between humans and ducks, but what exactly is imprinting?

There are two types of imprinting that occur among ducklings and goslings: filial imprinting and sexual imprinting.

Filial Imprinting is when ducklings and goslings hatch and subsequently learn to recognize their parent--or the first moving object that they consider to be their parent. This commonly occurs within a day and a half of hatching.

It makes sense that ducklings and goslings, who leave the nest soon after hatching, have the instincts to socially bond and stick close to a parent (even if that parent is you!) for protection. These hatchlings are more likely to survive and reproduce in the long run--an evolutionary benefit.

Occasionally we are asked if  hatchlings who were acquired at a few days old will still imprint on their new human parents. The answer is yes. Imprinting is not so steadfast as to have exact time lines or conditions--especially if there is no other parent around.

Our rescue endeavor frequently exposes us to formerly human imprinted birds who were subsequently abandoned. These ducks and geese have completely let go of their social bond with humans. In some cases, we can re-establish this filial bond. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year, but rediscovering this bond is possible.

Sexual Imprinting is when a duckling or gosling internalizes those traits that will one day be attractive in a mate. As adults, ducks and geese are attracted to mates who share the appearance of their parent.

If your duckling or gosling experienced filial imprinting on you because you were their caretaker upon hatching, they will also learn that your human physical traits are attractive. When they mature, they will begin to see you in a whole new light and may court you instead of other ducks or geese.

Sexual imprinting is not necessarily permanent--especially if there are other ducks and geese around. Although hatchlings may sexually imprint on you in the beginning, this tends to change once they mature and encounter other adult waterfowl. Commonly, by their first Spring, most will figure out the birds & the bees and will appropriately redirect their impulses, although they will still hold a special place in their hearts for you.

Our drakes Young Jeffrey & Young Matthew imprinted on humans, but once we began our rescue work and brought in hens, the boys realigned their beliefs pretty quickly. Although today they will toss a few courting displays my way, we are far second to the hens.

Sexual imprinting can also induce egg-laying in hens. If you have a hen who has imprinted on you, your presence can entice courting behavior and egg-laying.

Thank You: Gift Card Drive

Thank you Chris and Jennifer for thinking of the ducks and geese in our sanctuary. We hope many more of you will pitch in over the months to come and send more Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Target and Stop & Shop gift cards to help us purchase supplies for our ducks and geese.

 Special Thanks

Thank you to the Huffmans in Kentucky for extending a warm welcome--what a fantastic visit! 

Angelo sipping from his "Grey Goose" souvenir glass

       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 2008