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Help... 9 Mallard ducks in my pool  RSS feed

 
Yuka Takahara
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TLDR: Does anyone have any experience with wild mallard family taking over your yard/pool?

There are so many sites but not enough info so I thought I would try posting here for help. On May 19th 8 ducklings were born inside our ivy. We didn't know until May 20th they were all swimming in our pool. There aren't any ponds or lakes within 5 miles of us. Just residential area. We kept the side gate open but they were happy being in the pool.

We didn't want to catch them and relocate them because 1. they are super fast and 2. I didn't want to risk mom stressed and abandoning them.

Cleaning after them has been a nightmare but not much we can do. The 8 are almost the same size as mom now but still haven't gotten their flight wings yet. They practice everyday running across the water, diving down, etc. They eat as much as they can in our yard but unfortunately our yard is very trim and artificial grass.

We originally didn't want to feed them because I heard mixed opinions about them never wanting to leave but spoke to experts and they reassured me wild birds always leave as it is in their instinct. Upon their suggestion, Ive been giving them Mazuri Waterfowl starter food, romaine lettuce and watermelon everyday. They are a little over 5 weeks old and growing.

They sleep on a alligator float (which was meant as a deterrent but clearly doesn't work) which is secured with a string so it floats in the middle of the pool because we have raccoons and cats coming by everyday. When the raccoons come out at night the ducks all get off the float and quietly float in the pool until they leave.

The mom is a very good mom and watches over them day and night and teaching them what they need to know. For the first 2 weeks 1-2 Drakes would be swimming in the pool but ducklings and mom kept swimming away from them. Mom flies away in the morning and evening, sometimes 1 - 30minutes. I have no idea where she goes but very curious. Maybe looking for a place to take her babies once they fly? Or maybe just exercising. While mom is gone the babies stay on the alligator float until she returns.

Even if food is out, they only comes to eat if mom says ok. They are very disciplined ducklings.

Maintaining the pool has been a nightmare but managing okay.

I have seen online that they fly at 6 weeks - 11 weeks. We hope its the former!

It has been over 100 degrees so they are in the pool most of the day. They always stay near the water because they know they can always dive in to feel safe. I did build a few roof covers to keep them slightly cooler so they have been using it.

We have done as much as we can to keep them safe but next year we plan to try "Duck Off" liquid in the pool and Yard Enforcer motion sprinkler in the Ivy. As amazing as it has been watching these beautiful birds everyday, no more for us please!
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Alexandra Clark
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Location: Long Island, NY
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Yep.

We didn't even have a pond or a pool when some wild mallards decided to nest on our property when we were kids. There was a wet gully and I guess they decided that was enough water.

Mom and dad came back EVERY year. Even our hunting cats could not scare them away.

Do not feed them if they come next year--As soon as they come to visit you can search for the nest before the mother lays and remove it--after a few tries they generally leave for friendlier spots, or they will lay and not brood the eggs.

Good luck with the duck off and the motion sprinklers--no experience with them, but wild ducks tend to come back to where they had a successful brood.
 
Deb Rebel
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The nesting pair will come back and the littles might also.

We have egret problems with our ponds with goldfish and koi (raccoons like to visit too). What has worked...

Complete perimeter fencing that is solid from ground to six feet. Put latches at 4 1/2 feet up. Rock or imbed mesh at bottom edge, nothing is allowed in.  Build an airlock (an entry with second gate) as well.

Across the top, high enough for you to get under, string monofilament line on a 3'x3' grid. They can't see it and if wingtip/feathers brush it it will startle them greatly. Should prevent them from coming in from above to land. You might have to make it a smaller grid for mallards.

For raccoons, get a dog that's able to tree them and be expected to be visited the two hours before dawn. Garden hose and spot flashlight too. The young ones will scare, an old one will just stare you down. We had an average size female keeshond that could tree a raccoon, and this was the only time she really barked... follow it up with garden hose on full blast. If you can't win, 25# of the cheapest dog food you can buy, a week. At least they won't chew up $125 waterlilies and $1500 koi.

*I hate suggesting the clear monofilament line but it HAS to be invisible and strong enough. Be very careful in use and disposal or recycle of it  
 
Yuka Takahara
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wow thank you so much for both of your quick replies. Both great advice. I appreciate that!
I was looking at laying: heavy duty bird netting down over the pool and the ivy. We thought about doing solar sheets over the pool but it gets too hot here that it would just create algae in the pool.
I never thought of the clear monofilament but that would work also.

Your parimeter fencing/gate sounds amazing. But I raccoons are great climbers. We have 10' block wall but they still enter thru the neighbors side.

The motion sprinkler (Yard Enforcer) has been somewhat helping with the raccoons. They still come everyday but at least they aren't sitting around for an hour munching on ducks food or whatever is on the ground. It has kept the neighborhood cats away although they do watch from a distance. I just set it at night time to keep the raccoons away from the area we put out food for the ducks. Its pretty strong so might work by keeping it pointing to the pool next year. We shall see.  Even before the ducks arrived, we often see raccoon paw prints around the perimeter of our pool.

This year we tried:
Alligator float and swan float (recommended by local pool guys) - complete fail.
Dad running out to the pool and tossing my dogs stick near the duck - they flew away but female still nested - complete fail.
Bringing my dog out to scare the mom before nesting - she was scared but not enough to go elsewhere to nest. - complete fail.

Since they are protected by the law and can't disturb a nest, I think the best way is to make sure she doesn't nest. Putting a net over the ivy might be good... unless she decides to nest somewhere else or nest at a neighbors ivy and walk the ducklings to our pool once hatched... so we would need to net the pool too. (sorry thinking as I type!)

Taking care of 9 ducks is such hard work! If I'm not up by 6am the babies are knocking on the bedroom sliding glass with their beak.

Do you remember when your ducks flew away?  How many weeks?


 
Deb Rebel
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We had such fencing because we did have a dog and wanted her to stay in, and one of our three ponds (we didn't have much backyard otherwise) was 20'x24' and one inch shallower than what was considered a swimming pool (4' 8", swimming pool was 4'9" or deeper). We had very small children in the neighborhood. So we built our fencing to swimming pool standards and put the latches way up as required. We also had in the big one a ridge with steps then a place to crawl out on the edge. We told visitors if you fall in the big one, go to the middle and you can get out.

With dog proofing the bottom of the fence (no digging to be free), making it solid (cedar plank) so the ponds couldn't be seen from alley or neighbor's yards and tempt small kids; and the latching to prevent smalls from getting in; it was safety combined with function. We had an egret preserve a few miles away in town and they were so protected don't even think of looking at them crosseyed, so. Us pondkeepers went to the monofilament grid to deter them from landing. 

If you have your perimeter beefed up so they can't get in, mama will have to nest elsewhere and getting her ducklings to your water can't happen.
 
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