CARLSBAD–Ducklings under the care of Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s San Diego Wildlife Center were released on May 25 at Guajome Park in Oceanside.
The ducklings were transferred to the wildlife center on April 6 from Project Wildlife. At the center they stayed in a heated enclosure, ate specially formulated food, and had supervised swimming lessons before being moved to an aviary. Now they’ve learned to fly and will begin their new lives among other ducks.
SDWC Director Trish Jackman says, “There’s an explosion of ducklings separated from their mothers during this time of year. These ducklings were about one week old when they arrived,” San Diego Wildlife Center director Trish Jackman said. “We kept them warm, fed them a special food designed for water fowl, and gave them supervised swimming lessons in a shallow pool. Raising Mallards can have tragic consequences if it’s not done correctly.”
The center’s staff members were catching the ducks in their aviary on Friday morning so they can be safely transported. Jackman says, “We chose Guajome Lake at Guajome Park in Oceanside because it already has a duck population and there’s an existing food source. We also believe that they were hatched in that area, so it’s the logical place for them to return.”
Jackman explains that ducklings don’t automatically know how to fly.
“In the wild, their mothers would keep them safe and warm. They’re not hatched with waterproof feathers. That develops as they grow. Their mothers supervise them to make sure they learn to swim, but not before their feathers are able to repel the water. At the San Diego Wildlife Center their enclosure had a shallow pool that allowed them to adjust to the water but still stand up. They had limited access, just like their mothers would allow.”
Jackman adds, “Our goal is to teach them everything they need to know to survive in the wild, but to make sure they’re not too comfortable around humans. They need to be ducks, not pets. Ducks can be territorial. Even though we’ve done a great job with these ducklings, they still have many lessons to learn.”