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Name: Theresa
Status: other
Grade: n/a
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2012


Question:
I raised 4 male mallards in my pool last summer. They all went to the lake at the park about a mile or 2 from here. One was more tame than the others, all though they were all wild and 3 flew away on their own. The last, the more tame one, I took to the lake where he siblings were. He kept flying around the neigborhood, landing in people's yards. Now, the more tame male duck I took the lake is back. He is not with a female, just him alone. He is hanging around the pool, apparently not in any big rush to depart, no fear. I am wondering why he came home as I thought it was the females that returned to their native birth area. The lake where I took him as full of mallards and lots of things to eat, and females. He spent the winter there and is now full grown. My question, why has he returned? He always was independent with litle fear. Maybe he is getting out of dodge with the mating season going on right now? Any help would be appreciated.



Replies:
It seems that the one drake that returned is imprinted and not quite aware of how a truly wild duck would behave. Imprinting frequently happens when ducks and some other wild animals are raised by humans from a time before they have learned normal wild behavior. They learn that humans are source of food and security and don't know how to behave in the wild. Your duck may survive as long as there is food and safety around your neighborhood, but might never pair up with another duck.

Imprinting is one of the greatest problems with people raising wild animals, even with best of intentions, and one reason why biologists strongly discourage raising wild animals.

J. Elliott


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