Found a baby duck, goose or swan

Baby waterfowl don't normally stray far from their parents, so the mother will usually be close to them.

If their parents are dead, or they don't return within two hours, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation centre or vet for advice. If neither available, call us on 0300 1234 999.

Ducklings in a high nest

It's not unusual to see wild ducks nesting high in trees, on a high ledge or a balcony. Ducklings are light with a fluffy down, which protects them when they leave the nest from heights like this. If the nest is directly above hard flooring like concrete, you should also pile some soft materials (e.g. straw, leaves and grass) under the nest to cushion their fall.

Nest above four metres

However, if the nest is above four metres high (higher than the first floor of a normal house) they may need assistance. We recommend calling your local wildlife rehabilitation centre. If they're unable to help call us on 0300 1234 999.

Ducklings on the ground

Once they are on the ground, in most cases it's best to leave a duck family alone. The mother duck will know what she's doing and is best placed to care for her young. Interfering carries the risk of the mother flying away and abandoning the ducklings.

However, if they're in an enclosed area you can provide an easy route for them to leave safely, by placing a ramp over a fence or wall. If there is no safe route out and the area is suitable for them to remain (i.e. there's some vegetation and there's a shallow water pool present or one could be provided), they can be left in the area until they're old enough to fly away.

If ducklings need to be moved

If neither is possible, it may be necessary for them to be transported to the nearest water body. However, the mother would need to be caught first and this can be very difficult and risks her flying off and abandoning the ducklings. Therefore if you think they need physically relocating, or the mother flies off and abandons the ducklings, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation centre and ask if they can provide assistance. If they aren't able to help call us on 0300 1234 999.

More detailed advice is available on the RSPB website.

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