Hi there

Two days ago we discovered a female mallard and six ducklings in our relatively small, enclosed garden. There is no way for them to get out on their own, no gate for us to open etc. The only access is through a double length garage or the house. We called the rspb who advised to catch them and take them to nearest water (the river is less than a mile away). Unfortunately when we tried to catch the mother first as instructed she escaped leaving the ducklings behind. Amazingly after a couple of hours of her circling around overhead she tentatively came back to the garden and they are now reunited as a family again. 

We have put out two large shallow dishes of water, some porridge oats and some duck food. They frequently come out from under the hedges where they sleep, they drink and eat and look very happy and healthy at the moment. 

Our failed attempt at catching and moving them has me worried to try again for fear of losing the mother and having six orphaned ducklings. How essential is is that they get to a proper place with water soon?

Thanks for any advice.


  • Hello Connie, oh dear you do have a situation there. I can't help sorry, but if Hazel is around she will be able you. She has ducks in her garden, others with knowledge will also be able to advise you. Good luck, keep us posted.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • As they are being fed and watered by you, I wouldn't have thought it was that critical to get them to water, unless there are cats around. If there is no way out for them maybe the RSPCA or another local wildlife help group would be willing and more experienced/better equipped to handle capturing and moving them.


    Nige   Flickr

  • Thank you for your replies. Unfortunately our local wildlife rescue centre closed last year. The nearest is in the next county and I’ve tried contacting them but they’ve not responded, I know they must be awfully busy. I may try the rspca and see what they say.
  • Hi Connie, I think it would be very difficult for you to capture the adult female as she will be on permanent guard for her chicks and mallards do tend to spook easily if they have been mainly used to living in the wild with less human activity; as you say, if you keep trying, she may abandon her chicks so as Nigel suggested, I think it would be a job for the RSPCA who have the right equipment to deal with it. Meanwhile, keep the supply of food and water going as they need to drink as well as bathe; I feed our daily visiting mallards mixed seed (we are lucky enough to have a pond in the garden so water isn't a problem) if you have a larger container or something like a kids paddling pool that would keep them cool during this hot spell and assume there is plenty of shade under your hedge for them to rest in. Well done with your efforts and good luck; let us know how you get on.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Thank you so much for your replies. We called the RSPCA who said they would not come out unless the chicks were abandoned. We carried on feeding them and providing water at a loss to what to do for them really.

    Unfortunately three days ago we noticed mummy duck but no ducklings. They were there one evening and gone by dawn. We’re not sure what happened to them, there’s no sign of a fox (no scattered feathers etc) and I struggle to see how a predator would have got all six at once. But we are in a village near a river so lots of birds of prey and foxes around.

    For a few days mum was still returning to our garden and seemingly looking for them although we’ve not seen her in last day or so.

    So not the best outcome but I guess that’s nature :-(
  • So sorry to hear the latest update Connie, young ducklings are always vulnerable to predators as they can't fly for about two months, sounds as if it is quite likely a fox if they disappeared overnight and especially if all six are gone. Foxes would collect one and return for the others carrying them away, you wouldn't always see any feathers and the chicks would still be downy if they are so young. Hopefully, the female mallard will eventually fly off and find a more sensible place to rear another brood; she would have enough time to start over this season I think. Once again, sorry to hear as you really tried your very best and it must be so upsetting but thanks for all your efforts Connie.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to Conniewolf:

    I too am sorry Connie to hear about the ducklings, as you say that is nature. You did all that you could, so we'll done for that.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Could well have been a fox, but longer daylight hours, I wouldn't rule out a morning repeat visit by crows or magpies. Stoat is another possibility.
  • Hazel, please can you give some advice on my thread