The spring religious holidays of Easter and Passover provide time for reflection and renewal. To all of those who celebrate these events, I wish you peace.
I have done domestic waterfowl for upwards of 20 years here in St. Louis. Domestic waterfowl are ducks and geese who have been bred for generations as food and as a result, are bred to be too heavy to fly. The most common are the "Aflac" ducks, the white Pekin ducks that are fuzzy, little yellow ducklings that people buy at Easter.
Folks are often charmed by the peeping innocence of these babes and buy them on impulse as gifts, frequently for children. However, they are not called waterFOWL for no good reason, and quickly it is realized how messy and needy these infants are, and buyer's remorse sets in. Usually the ducklings are turned loose in public parks under the mistaken assumption that this is a natural environment for them.
Without the oil from the feathers of their mothers, ducklings' down is not yet waterproofed. Being prey animals and susceptible to dogs, fox, raccoon, crows, etc., their only safety recourse is to flee to water, where the weight of their down pulls them under and drowns them.
Additionally, domestic waterfowl require a balanced, pelleted diet that is not gleaned by being fed popcorn, white bread, or grass, so these ducklings often suffer developmental problems IF they manage to survive to adulthood.
My most heart-breaking scenario, when I am working on my own time with any volunteer that I can find to help me, are the imprinted babies. They are the ones that hatched early enough and were handled extensively enough to believe they are pets, and they run terrified to any passing human for safety and help.
I rescued a duckling one year that ran up to a woman walking her dog, and the dog attacked her. My vet bill (personal, out of my own pocket for a duck that was not mine) was quite high.
Another year, I was called to Carondelet Park to pick up a gosling, who was in a box labeled "Do Not Eat Me, I am a Pet." This goose spent several months here until I found her a wonderful home with a retired veterinarian who had a lonely male of her same breed.
So please pass this information on to anyone who knows someone who has bought ducks or chicks for Easter, and then do not know what to do with them. If you know anyone who finds themselves in this situation, have them contact the Humane Society of Missouri, which has a barnyard adoption division called LongMeadow, in Union, MO. The local branch at Macklind Avenue can assist in transport if distance is an issue.
Also, consider sponsoring a barn buddy–this is a wonderful idea for a gift for a pet lover in your life who does not want a present to open, but keep a present that aids an animal all year long.
WyndSong Border Collies and Canada Goose Management