Snettisham - Duck with broken beak - Advice Needed

Hi all,

I have already started this topic on another section and was advised that it could be worth posting it here as well. I could not find a group for Snettisham, Titchwell seemed to be the closest.

When visiting the RSPB Reserve at Snettisham yesterday I saw a duck with a damaged beak. I went back today with my parents and we decided (using our relatively small amount of bird knowledge) that it would be a good idea to take it to a vet to get it checked out.

However, catching it safely and without shocking it to much is going to be very hard to do. Also it seems to be feeding fine, has a female duck following it everywhere and looks healthy apart from the beak, all positive signs.

I managed to get a couple of photos of it today, see below. Sorry for the poor quality, they were taken with a mobile phone and the subject didn't want to stay still.

I would very much appreciate it if one of the many experts on these forums could advise me on whether I should leave it alone or try to take it to a vet. Perhaps there is someone on this group who visits Snettisham regularly and has seen the bird several times and knows it is generally doing fine.

I would not be able to go back until Sunday as I am working from tomorrow until Saturday and the reserve is an hours drive away.

Thanks in advance for any help offered.


  • Hi Ray

    Thanks for posting this. It certainly is an unusual deformity or injury. Some of my colleagues have seen this bird on several occassions over the past 10 days and it seems to be feeding ok. We did try to catch the bird on the 25th November but it was healthy enough to fly away. We will keep an eye on it and if the situation changes inform the RSPCA.



  • In reply to Robert Coleman:

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the reply. I decided last night to raise an enquiry on the RSPCA website, just to get their thoughts on it. They replied asking me to call them to provide some more information, which I did. After answering all their questions they decided it was worth them taking a look.

    I did explain to them that it is feeding, mobile and seems generally healthy but they still thought it was worth passing through to their local resource. I would imagine that it would quite rightly be fairly low down their priority list for the reasons above.

    I will update the thread if I hear anything.

    Thanks again,


  • In reply to n1cecupoftea:

    Hi All.

    I have an update and another question:

    Update: At the end of last year the RSPCA went to the reserve and decided that it was not a good idea to try and catch the duck because it was in good condition and feeding. I have been to the reserve many times this year and seen the duck on most occasions. There doesn't seem to have been any decline in its condition and it is still feeding, which is obviously great!

    New question: When we went to Snettisham last weekend we noticed that this duck does not have the rusty coloured chest feathers that male Mallard's normally have. I looked at back at the photos I took last year, which can be seen at the top of this thread, and noticed that it didn’t have the rusty coloured chest feathers last year. I have done a considerable amount of Googling and not found an explanation for this. All the others Mallards seem to have got their full colours back after the mating season. Can anyone tell me why this bird doesn't have the rusty coloured chest feathers?

    Thanks in advance :-)

  • In reply to n1cecupoftea:

    This duck is a Mallard with some domestic ancestry, hence the slightly different plumage pattern to the 'wild type'. Many domestic Mallard breeds have been developed to have plumage that differs slightly or considerably from that of wild birds (as is the case with most domestic animals). The breed called Khaki Campbell, for example, has a pale chest and no (or reduced) white neck-ring, as well as a bluish rather than yellow bill:

    Domestic Mallards like this end up in the wild all the time, either escaping or being dumped. They go on to interbreed with the wild Mallards, producing an array of confusing plumages :) It's good to hear this bird is surviving well despite his injury.

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  • In reply to aiki:

    Aiki, thank you very much for your quick and detailed response, it is really appreciated. I Googled domestic Mallard and found:

    There seems to be a huge amount of variety with these domestic ducks. Slightly disappointed that my partner and I had somehow failed to notice this.

    Thanks again for the great reply :-)