Ducks and Geese

Rescue and stabilizing ducklings/goslings

Mallard Ducklings Pick up the duckling/gosling using your hands if possible. If it cannot safely be caught with your hands, gently place a clean, lightweight cloth over it, and catch it while it's covered. Prepare a container, such as a pet carrier or a deep cardboard box (ducklings can jump two-feet high) with a heat source and some soft, absorbent material, such as paper towels or newspaper, or clean cloths.

The younger the duckling/gosling, the more important it is to keep him warm. Ducklings/goslings should not be kept in water. Ducklings/goslings need an external source of heat such as a heating pad set on low or a hot water bottle filled with warm (not hot) water. A temporary, disposable heating pad can be made by putting some dry rice or beans in a sock and knot close, and microwave it for one minute. Cover the bag with cloth or several layers of paper and nestle the duckling/goslings into the softness.

  • Once the duckling/gosling is warmed, water and food may be offered. Never force food or water down a duckling/gosling's throat, rather, put a small dish of clean water in it's box.

  • Provide softened dry dog food in water and offer it to the duckling/gosling on your finger. Put just a small amount into its mouth, then see if it will nibble some more off your fingers. Leave the rest of the softened dog food in a shallow dish in his box.

  • It is stressful for the duckling/gosling to be handled, and never expose it to your pets.

  • Wild ducklings/goslings are not pets or toys and should never be treated as such by anyone

  • Reduce the duckling/gosling's stress by keeping the box still, quiet, and dark.

    Do not keep the youngster in water.  Ducklings and goslings do not have the waterproofing adults of their species has.

  • Now that the duckling/gosling is stable, call a rehabber.


Mallard Babies Watching the antics of wild, healthy ducks and geese is a pleasure in our neighborhoods, parks and places of business, but what happens when an ill or injured duck or goose or abandoned duckling/gosling is found? The proliferation of man-made lakes in the greater Phoenix area, while providing cooling beauty, has resulted in soaring populations of domestic and migratory ducks and geese.

Since ducks and geese are here because man created water places, conscience dictates that we assist them when things go wrong. Ducks and geese are frequently injured by fishing line, hooks, lead weights, litter, blow darts, arrows, chemicals, cars, and pets. None of these are natural occurrences, and prevention is the best policy. But if you find an ill or injured duck or goose, call a rehabber.

Click here to go to the Ducks and Geese Photo Gallery

Other Waterbirds page

To find an East Valley Wildlife rehabilitator call 480-814-9339 or facebook.


Hatching is a stressful ordeal for a new little duckling or gosling, and time is needed afterwards to dry off and regain strength. Sometimes, by the time the last ducklings/goslings hatch their older siblings are active and anxious to find water. Here are some points to remember:

  • Ducklings or goslings that hatch last may not have enough time to recover; they may not keep up with the family and eventually fall behind. Sometimes ducklings/goslings stray from the group and get lost.

  • A mother duck or goose may also abandon eggs that are slow to hatch, concentrating instead on getting active ducklings/goslings to food, water, and safety. If abandoned eggs hatch after she leaves the nest, the ducklings/goslings are left to fend for themselves.

  • If you're able to catch a lone, dry duckling or gosling, with duck/goose families nearby, walk around the area, including the shores of lakes or streams with the duckling or gosling cupped securely in your hands. Let it peep loudly. Only it's mother will respond to it's cries, and she should respond in a frantic, angry manner.

  • Never put lost ducklings or goslings back into the water unless you're confident you've located it's particular family; it is not likely to survive without it's mother, and another mother duck or goose
    will reject it.

  • If you find a wet duckling or gosling, or find an abandoned duckling/gosling with no duck/goose families in the area, it is not likely to survive on its own and it must be rescued. 

    Do not keep the youngster in water. It must be kept warm with a heat source such as a heating pad or hot water bottle. Ducklings and goslings do not have the waterproofing adults of their species has.

Wow East Valley Wildlife also handles domestic ducks and geese on community lakes.  We do not, however, have room to take in unwanted pets.  Putting ads in feed stores or placing an ad in the newspaper is advisable if you have a pet duck or goose that you no longer want.

Ducklings in your swimming pool?

Ducks in Pool
Here's a tip: If the ducklings cannot get out, place an old window screen or piece of wood with a towel on the edge of the pool. Weight one end down on the pool deck with a heavy rock, bag of sand, etc and let the other end sit in the water.  This will allow the ducklings to get out on their own and the screen or wet towel will give them traction.  Ducklings that cannot get out of a pool will most likely become fatigued and drown.  Give them a fighting chance!


Ducklings/Goslings in a yard, office park or parking lot


When a mother hatches her ducklings/goslings in a yard, office complex, or parking lot, she may have no way to get them safely to water. If the property is near a lake or stream and you can open a gate so the mother can safely lead her brood to water, this is ideal.
If there are no pets or traffic nearby, you may allow the mother to raise the ducklings there until they are old enough to fly away. You will need to buy or borrow a wading pool, provide correct shelter and nutrition for the little family, and put up with a considerable mess for several weeks. For instructions and support, call a waterfowl rehabber.
If the family is in or near a swimming pool:

  • A ramp must be provided in order for the ducklings/goslings to climb out of the water, or they will drown. A board, folded lawn chair, or any other type of material with enough texture to provide traction, for wet little webbed feet will do.

  • If it is impossible to allow the mother to lead her brood safely to water or raise them where they have hatched, try to keep the mother duck/goose calm until we can help you.

  • Keep children and pets completely away from the little family.

  • Provide softened dog food and call a rehabber. A volunteer will try to capture the mother duck/goose, who will certainly try to fly away.

  • Once the mother duck/goose is captured, the ducklings/goslings will follow, and the family will be relocated to an appropriate location. However, if the mother duck/goose flies away and does not return, the ducklings/goslings will have to be rescued. 

    Do not keep the youngster in water. Keep it in a box with a warm towel.  Ducklings and goslings do not have the waterproofing adults of their species has.







Wing Injury

Duck with Broken WingDuck with Broken Wing

Male mallard with broken wing.  Eclipse feathering (the males lose their mating feathers during the summer and change to look more like females)  This male is in the process of losing the green head and will soon have mottled brown feathers until the fall. Call a rehabber if you find a duck with a broken wing.


Angel Wing

Duck with Angel WingDuck with Angel Wing

Wikipedia: Angel Wing also known as Slipped Wing, crooked wing, or drooped wing is a disease that affects waterfowl, primarily geese and ducks, in which the last joint of the wing is twisted with the wing feathers pointing out laterally, instead of laying against the body. Males develop it more than females.

The disease manifests as an incurable anatomical condition which is acquired in young birds. Due to a high-calorie diet, especially one high in proteins and/or low in vitamin D, vitamin E and manganese, one or both carpus (wrist) joints are retarded in their development relative to the rest of the wing; for reasons unknown, if only one wing is affected it is usually the left one. The result is a wrist which is twisted outwards and unable to perform its usual function. Angel wing symptoms include stripped remiges (flight feathers) in the wrist area, or remiges protruding from wings at odd angles. In extreme cases, the stripped feathers may resemble sickly blue straw protruding from wings. In adult birds the disease is incurable and usually leads to an early death as affected birds are rendered effectively or totally flightless. In young birds wrapping the wing and binding it against the bird's flank, together with feeding the bird a more natural diet, can reverse the damage.

The only wild waterfowl populations known to be affected are those fed by man.


Baby Geese Reality Check
It is inadvisable to try to raise a lone duckling. He needs the company of other ducklings and the expertise of trained rehabbers in order to grow up healthy and wild as nature intended.
Did You Know?
A female duck lays one egg
a day (4 to 24 eggs) and cleverly waits to sit on them until after she has finished laying. This way all the eggs will be incubated at the same time and hatch within a 24 hour period.
EVW is in need of committed people interested in adopting or fostering ducks, geese and ducklings.

Criteria for adopting are:
- Secure Fencing
- Shade & Shelter
- Water Area
- Food Supply
- Safety from Predators

Contact Nancy at: EVWildlife.
if you are interested.
A large number of waterfowl rescues and sometimes death is a result of fishing hooks and fishing line litter.  The waterfowl get tangled in the line causing injury to feet, wings etc or get hooks in their eyes or mouth making it impossible to eat. Eventually infection or starvation will overcome them.  Please teach your children and remind the adults not to leave their tackle after they have gone.

Last updated November 1, 2022