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Issue 25: January 2007

In This Issue:

  Loss of Appetite in Waterfowl
  Taming Aggressive Geese
  The Month in Photos!
  Get to Know Your Predators:
The Northern Pike
  Recommended Reading:
How to Draw Farm Animals
  Reader Poll #25
  Results of Reader Poll #24

The Month in Photos!

Jeffrey soaks up some sun

A kiss from Matthew...

Elijah enjoys a quiet swim...

Do you have any snacks for us?

Deirdre takes a bow!

Get to Know Your Predators: The Northern Pike

Yes, even a fish can be dangerous. The Northern Pike weighs in around eight pounds. Pike lurk in the water, in the vegetation near shore, and they have been known to eat ducklings.

Your best defense is to keep your ducklings off of water inhabited by the Northern Pike. 

Recommended Reading*

Ordering information |

How to Draw Farm Animals
By Barbara Soloff Levy

This easy-to-follow guide makes it a snap for any aspiring artist to draw everyone's favorite barnyard buddies. Step-by-step diagrams use circles, ovals, and other geometric shapes to create images of a turkey, duck, horse, cow, and 26 other farm animals.

* For our full recommended reading list, click here. If you order from Amazon by way of our website, Majestic receives a portion of the proceeds!

Reader Poll #25

Question: What would you like to accomplish in 2007? (Check as many as you like.)

Build a new/better enclosure
Acquire more geese/ducks
Resolve a predator problem
Learn more about waterfowl
Build a new/better pond
Downsize my flock
Help waterfowl in need

Voting Has Closed.
Please see next issue for results.

Results of Reader Poll #24

What do you think about those resin/plastic geese you dress in seasonal outfits and place on your porch or hearth?

They are SO charming! 38%
I own one and love it! 8%
I wish I had one! 31%
They are SO ridiculous! 23%

Contact Us

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249

Our Newsletter

The Majestic Monthly is published 12 times per year. Back issues can be obtained online from our Newsletter Archives.

Loss of Appetite in Waterfowl

When your duck or goose is suffering from a loss of appetite, a vet visit is in good order. Ducks and geese tend to hide their ailments for as long as they can as a defense against predation. If a predator sees a sick or weak bird, it will target it, so a duck or goose’s best defense is often a good act. Loss of appetite can be indicative of a camouflaged health problem. Verify if your duck or goose has any other symptoms. Diarrhea commonly accompanies many ailments and can be a clear indicator. If your bird’s stool seems normal, it is still wise to bring a sample with you to the vet for screening. If negative for parasites, many vets will place your bird on five day round of a general antibiotic (often Baytril 22 mg, 1 pill daily) to address any hidden infections.

Loss of appetite can also occur when hens are nesting. If you notice this and have no intention of hatching out ducklings or goslings, remove the eggs and completely disperse the nest. Continue to do this daily until your hen abandons the nesting behavior. If your hen is nesting, and you want her to, consider putting food and water dishes next to her nest for easy accessibility. If she still refuses to eat, you will need to remove all eggs and completely dismantle her nest to discourage her fasting behavior, which is extremely detrimental to her health.

We have heard of ducks losing their appetites when they are on inadequate diets. If your duck or goose is not eating properly, an unhealthy diet can sometimes be the issue. See our October 2006 newsletter for healthy dietary options.

We have seen a loss of appetite in a duck who came to us infested with lice. As soon as Daphnee came in, we noticed the culprits and bathed and treated her with poultry delousing powder. Within hours she was free of them (although we continued with a treatment regime to address new hatchlings for an additional 14 days). Her appetite slowly returned to her, full force, within two days of original treatment. See our January 2006 newsletter for more information regarding lice.

When you notice a loss of appetite in your duck or goose, also consider anything in their environment that may have changed. Temporary and brief episodes of loss of appetite can occur during these disturbances. Try to determine if your duck or goose may be stressed by loud noise -- new construction taking place nearby. Perhaps there is an object in visual range that is disturbing them -- a tractor parked next to their pen that is usually not there. Changes in the amount of light your birds are exposed to can also lead to disturbances among your flock. Environment changes can sometimes frighten routined pets, and disturb their eating/sleeping cycles.

Loss of appetite can also occur if you have a “bully” in your flock that is preventing any other flock members from getting at food or water sources. Making multiple food sources available may resolve the issue, or separations may be in order.

Taming Aggressive Geese

Whether you are adopting geese or raising them up from goslings, you may find yourself at the whim of a tyrannical alpha goose. We have often been asked what we do in this situation and we have heard success stories in response to our advice, so it’s time we share with everyone.

When Ali and Chan first came to us last year, Ali was the alpha leader, and Chan was his gentle subordinate. Within minutes of his arrival to the sanctuary, Ali attempted to put me in my place with a good bite and a pretty harsh wing beating. For our own future safety, I had to set to the immediate task of establishing myself as his alpha leader. It was vital that I didn’t fall into a subordinate position at the get-go, setting the pace for future interactions. The longer you are assigned to a subordinate position, the more difficult it can be to reverse the role.

After my brief confrontation with Ali, I waited for the two newcomers to settle back down, and then I reentered the pen wearing protective clothing -- a thick winter jacket, protective boots and thick gloves. Ali immediately ran over to challenge me, but I stayed in place and raised my arms out from my sides to make myself look bigger. I did not back away, nor did I step forward. I stayed confident; I leaned forward and mimicked the hissing sounds he made at me, being sure that my sounds were a little more poignant than his.

He stopped a few feet in front of me, using his better judgment and deciding that I might be too much for him to tackle. After a few seconds of stand off, I took a slight step forward, raising my knee into the air and slightly stomping my one foot down on the ground. It was a very controlled and precise movement. He held his ground and hissed again. I repeated the action with my other foot as I stepped forward again, and hissed at him with my arms still out at my sides -- like big open wings. At one point he lunged forward and snapped at me, but I quickly crossed my arms in front of me in a “genie style” pose, which blocked his attempt. I leaned towards him with my still-crossed arms, an action that forced him back a few steps without me actually having to push him. My thick coat was a safety buffer between my arms and his bill if I needed it. He wasn’t expecting my fearlessness. He stood there hissing at me for a moment (and I continued to hiss back) and then he relinquished and took a step back.

I continued to take small steps towards him, but decisive steps, with a good stomp to punctuate them. I kept my eyes focused on his eyes. I did not show fear. He stopped hissing and backed up again. I said, “I am in charge” and meant it, “I am not afraid of you.” He turned away and quickly moved to the other side of the pen with his pal Chan. I stood in place, silent and still, for a minute and then backed out of the pen. I stood outside of the closed pen door, looking in at Ali for a moment, and then I walked away and gave him some time to think.

Over the course of the next couple weeks, I entered their pen a few times a day and went about my business with little regard for what they were doing. I made it a point to walk near them, but I showed no immediate interest in them. I would not just wander in the pen aimlessly and walk about. I would assign myself a specific task to accomplish before entering the pen; then, I would step inside and go about doing it. When my task was complete, I would leave the enclosure. Tasks can be as simple as going into the pen to refresh their hay, top off food dishes, or change out a water source. You can also enter with the mindset that you will check the sturdiness of every third fence post -- an imaginary task, but any task will work, even if it’s just a sham.

The attitude you want to exude when entering the pen is one that is confident and determined. I say the pen as opposed to their pen because you want to think of all enclosures as belonging to you -- that’s part of this mindset. Be careful not to be reckless or confrontational; avoid any fast or jumpy movements. Stay in control, do not panic, and remain relaxed -- never paranoid. Remember, you want to be their protector; think of yourself this way when you enter. If you seem nervous or frightened to them, they will not put their trust in you. You must be the bravest in the flock in order for them to relinquish their power to you and respect you.

Avoid looking at your geese when you are in the pen; pretend instead that they are not even there (do keep the alpha’s whereabouts subtly in mind though). Avoid focusing on any subordinate geese who have nothing to prove. This can actually draw a negative reaction from a protective alpha goose.

If you hear a goose coming toward you while you are in the pen, turn quickly and confidently, raise your arms out from your sides to make yourself bigger and hiss while making eye contact. He should stop. If he does not back away from you, then you will want to take a small step forward -- with a small, but reaffirming stomp to the ground as your foot comes down. A good trick is to wear an unzipped coat when you are entering the pen. If your goose decides to challenge you, just grab the bottom zipper corners of your coat in each of your hands. When you lift your arms out to your sides your goose will take your makeshift wings very seriously and will often back down from his attack.

Be careful not to take things too far. You want to establish yourself as a trustworthy leader, not as a tyrant. You want their respect, not their fear. As soon as the goose relinquishes their challenge and moves away from you, you have done enough. There is no need to chase the goose off. Stand still for a moment while he backs off and then slowly go about your business again. If he comes at you again, just repeat the same tactics.

Once you have displaced the alpha goose and assumed the role for yourself, it will be time for you to become friends with your geese. The attitude you exude during your visits should slowly shift as your goal shifts. To prepare them for your first visits, find a chair that will keep you at an advantage when you are sitting in it (not too low to the ground at first). Bring the chair out to their pen and leave it there. Don’t sit in it; just leave it there empty to give them time to get used to the new object. After a couple days, go ahead and relax in it. Bring them a few healthy snacks and visit with them. Chan seems to enjoy it when we mimic his little musical honks. Do those things which put your geese at ease and you will be on your way to a great relationship.

       Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with any guidance provided on this website. Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state or municipal law or regulation with which such guidance may conflict. Any guidance is general in nature. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any specific circumstances.

© Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary 2007