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  Waterbirds

ADULT BIRD > REHABILITATORS > Waterbirds

DUCKS
SWANS
GEESE

Read the REHABILITATORS section of ADULT BIRD first
Extra species specific information for long term husbandry below



DUCKS

HUSBANDRY - Ducks

  • Capture

Nets very useful
Disposable gloves – ducks carry infections
Loaf of white bread for ‘bait’
Ducks fast runners!

catching  waterfowl
 
© Becki Lawson
  • Housing

Initially a large cage with newspaper and ‘water fountain’ (see SUPPLIERS)
They should ideally move as soon as possible from a cage to an outdoor enclosure where they have access to shallow water to bathe and exercise in, watch for water-logging
A net over the top of the enclosure will be necessary to prevent the occupants flying off and wild birds coming in for feeding
NEVER use straw or hay for bedding – danger of aspergillosis
Ducklings in rehab should not be allowed onto water until 4mths of age – water logging, hypothermia

chicken and chick duck in outdoor run
© Craig Stray
© Chelsea Collins
  • Handling

Hold ducks with 2 hands around their shoulders to prevent wings flapping

RELEASE - Ducks

Read ADULT BIRD Release section first

Species specific considerations
Ideally where they were found, if unsuitable then quiet river/lake

 

HUSBANDRY - Swan

  • Capture

Loaf of white bread for ‘bait’
Large sack with hole cut in the bottom for the head to slip through
‘Swan hook’

swan capture equipment
© Colin Seddon
  • Housing

Too large for a normal cage, large washable container or pen
Soft substrate/matting of some sort to protect feet and keel
Move as soon as possible to outdoor enclosure with pool, ideally with short grassy area for grazing
A net over the top of the enclosure will be necessary to prevent the occupants flying off and wild birds coming in for feeding

waterfowl pool
 
© Becki Lawson
  • Handling

If in water, lure it to the bank with bread, catch by the neck, pull towards you
Quickly try and reposition your hold to the swan’s shoulders to prevent the wings flapping
Kneel astride the swan’s body, keeping wings contained, and slip the swan into the sack head first through the hole in the bottom
Wings will now be unable to flap, string may be necessary to tie the open end of the sack to prevent the swan backing out of the sack

 

RELEASE - Swan

Read ADULT BIRD Release section first

Species specific considerations
Must be fully waterproofed first
If taken from specific lake/river, return to same spot
If unknown origin, either take to area without other swans but swan habitat, or area with large group of mixed origin swans

HUSBANDRY - Geese

  • Capture

Geese
Similar catching method to swans but net sometimes useful

Moorhens and coots
Small bird catching technique – small net/towel, cat carrier/sturdy cardboard box.
Nearly impossible if bird in the water
NOTE hold moorhen with face towards you to avoid the projectile diarrhoea it will eject!
Restrain or wrap coot’s feet, they scratch as a defence

Grebes
Small bird catching technique – small net/towel, cat carrier/sturdy cardboard box. Near impossible if bird in the water. Place thick towel under bird in carrier to protect keel.

heron restraint capture equipment
© East Sussex Wildlife Rescue
© Colin Seddon

Heron
Head must always be controlled first, very dangerous beak
Flapping wings and legs all harmless and can be tucked under the arm
Cover the head to quieten the bird
Very difficult to catch if still able to fly

  • Housing

Geese
Initially a large cage with soft substrate/matting of some sort, e.g. calf matting, or artificial turf to protect feet and keel
Move as soon as possible to outdoor enclosure with pool, ideally with short grassy area for grazing
A net over the top of the enclosure will be necessary to prevent the occupants flying off and wild birds coming in for feeding

Grebes
Cage MUST be lined with thick layer of soft substrate/ padding- rubber or foam. Keel very easily damaged and infected
Ideally on water as much as possible, need ledge low enough for bird to haul out to rest. Do not leave unsupervised on water

Moorhens and coots
Initially a standard cage with newspaper/sand
Cover front of moorhen’s cage – very nervous bird
Move as soon as possible from a cage to an outdoor enclosure where they have access to shallow water to bathe and exercise in, watch for water logging
A net over the top of the enclosure will be necessary to prevent the occupants flying off and wild birds coming in for feeding

juvenile coot heron in flight aviary
© Becki Lawson
© Becki Lawson

Herons
In cage large enough for standing upright
Move to outdoor aviary to acclimatise and exercise wings as soon as possible
A net over the top of the enclosure will be necessary to prevent the occupants flying off and wild birds coming in for feeding

  • Handling

Grebes
Wear thick protective gloves and goggles, stab with their beaks

Herons
Wear goggles as a precaution; sharp beak is a danger to your face

 

RELEASE - Geese

Read ADULT BIRD Release section first
Seek assistance from expert organisations with knowledge of the whereabouts of particular species at different times of year. See CONTACTS page

Species specific considerations
Geese
Release where they were found
Migrants only when the species is still in the country – generally winter

Grebes
Release where they were found or alternative suitable habitat
Migrants only when the species is still in the country – generally winter

Moorhens and coots
Release where they were found, or alternative suitable habitat

Herons
Release where they were found, or alternative suitable habitat
One legged or one eyed herons cannot survive in the wild and can only be released on an enclosed lake where they can be monitored

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