Learning what Not to Do


I entered into raising ducks thinking it would be simple to bond with my new baby ducklings and it would be a lot of fun. After all, I figured that I have tamed feral cats, sheep and even a couple of chickens. How hard could bonding with a duck be? Youtube videos made it look so simple. There are many videos of cute little ducklings waddling behind people, which made me think it was simple. It may or may not be simple but for me, I think I am learning the hard way how not to bond with/tame ducklings. For me, it has been like seeing something on pinterest and thinking it would be easy and then trying it and it ending up being an epic fail. But my ducks and I are in it for the long haul and hopefully we will learn to at least co-exist.

I will admit that my ducklings do not like me. This did make me sad because I expected some kind of bonding within the first week of having them. But I have learned so much since then and bonding with ducklings isn’t necessarily something that happens easily. I have talked with many duck owners who have ducks that don’t like them. I wish I had learned this before getting ducks so I didn’t have unnaturally high expectations. So maybe I shouldn’t feel bad when giving a mere glance at one of my ducklings is met with a look of fear and dread?

I feel like I have tried so much to help tame them and so many of the things I have tried have been the wrong things to try. Maybe for some people these things work but for me and my poor ducks, it didn’t. Maybe I have been trying too hard as well. With cats, you can not force them to like you. It takes time and patience and they have to come to you, you can’t come to them.

The number one thing that has caused my poor ducklings so much heartache is me trying to hold them when they didn’t want to be held. The poor duckling chirped madly as though I was about to take them away from their siblings forever and murder them. I was told to hold them and handle them until they got used to being handled and would settle down. My poor duckling just got louder and more squirmy with fluff flying the longer I held it. It’s warning cries alerted the others to run away and hide because this big scary monster was coming for them next. Now any movements of my big scary hands causes them to run and hide for fear that they will be next. Unless I have peas…. Peas makes everything ok….. Well unless I try to reach for them while I have peas. Then they remember the big scary monster is coming for them. I can imagine them having bad dreams of this hand coming for them and being restrained against their will. The poor ducks.

So now I am trying something new. Just sitting in the pen and reading my book and not even looking at them so they get used to me. At first, just sitting in there was so scary for them and they ran into a corner terrified. But eventually they got the courage to come out and play with each other and got close to me. 🙂 Although any sudden movements from me or glances in their direction causes them anguish. I guess all the treats I give and reading I do for them isn’t enough to undo the damage and trauma of being held. Maybe just sitting there and letting them get used to my presence will be helpful.

I had hoped to share on this blog what works but maybe sharing what doesn’t work (at least for me) is also helpful. I am sure that holding ducklings can work if you know what you are doing and maybe if it is done right off. But for me, it definitely did more harm than good. I just hope that in the process of learning, that I don’t cause lasting damage that I need to find them a duck therapist later in life.


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