Waterfowl young are precocial, meaning they are mobile and capable of feeding themselves immediately after hatching. However, they are still reliant on their parents for guidance, warmth and protection.
When ducklings and goslings hatch, the mother will lead the brood to water. The selected water source may be up to a mile away from the nest site. On this journey the family may face busy roads, fenced yards, storm drains and other obstacles. Whenever possible, it is best to clear the way and let Mom do her job. See the information below if it is believed that human intervention is needed.
If you find a single baby duckling or gosling:
Please DO NOT offer food or water. Doing so most often causes more harm due to dietary sensitivities of wildlife and/or improper feeding technique.
Search the area for the rest of the family. The family will have young that are the same size as the single baby. If the family is observed, place the single baby as close to them as possible. Monitor constantly for 30 minutes to one hour. If the baby is accepted at this time, continue to check the status every couple of hours throughout the day. If the baby is rejected, or the family cannot be located, contact the Wildlife Rescue Center for further instruction.
If a family of waterfowl is attempting to cross a busy road:
Baby waterfowl may be separated from their parent(s) on the way to the water or may be unable to access the water due to nest location. Human intervention is sometimes necessary in these cases. Parent(s) will follow their young as long as they can hear the babies vocalizing. Collect them in an open box. Exercise caution when handling young with agitated parents present. While carrying the open box, lead the parent(s) to the water or out of the area where the young were confined. Set the box on the ground on its side and leave the area to allow the family to reunite.
Contact the Wildlife Rescue Center at (636) 394-1880 for instruction on any situation not covered by the preceding information.
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