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Issue 30: June 2007

In This Issue:

  Broken Toenail/Torn Webbing
  Zinc Poisoning
  Waterfowl of the Month:
Winston and Mr. Pearl
  The Month in Photos!
  Get to Know Your Predators:
Chicken Hawk/Cooper's Hawk
  Recommended Reading:
Goose in a Hole
  Reader Poll #30
  Results of Reader Poll #29

All The Month in Photos

3 Toulouse

Angelo "The Airplane"

Border Dispute!

Elijah has a QUACKING good time!

Jezebel & Elijah meet the neighbors

Get to Know Your Predators: Chicken Hawk/Cooper's Hawk

Although not nearly as aggressive as many of the other raptors, or as large, The Chicken Hawk only weighs in between 8 and 21 ounces. However, since we are commonly asked about them (because of their name, I suspect), I am including them on the list. They are mostly of concern if you have ducklings.

Hawks, falcons and eagles are all diurnal raptors. If your ducks do not have top cover, they will be at the mercy of these predators. Most attacks occur on free range ducks, especially when they are in open areas that lack sufficient cover.

All hawks, falcons and eagles are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits their possession or destruction. No permits are required to scare them off except in the case of an endangered or threatened species, as in the case of the bald and golden eagles. Check your own state’s laws and regulations prior to taking any actions against these birds.

Recommended Reading*

Ordering information |

Goose in a Hole
By Judith Kerr

When the water in the village pond disappears into a hole, Katerina the goose leads her family down it to find a new pool. At the same time, the mayor is having plumbing problems, while the townspeople are concerned about the water's disappearance. Only little Millie Buswell worries about her favorite goose. Meanwhile, the geese follow the water underground, surfacing through a storm sewer into a fountain and then to the hippo pool at the zoo.

The parallel story lines of the geese and the humans flow smoothly into a satisfying ending. The soft, colored-pencil drawings track Katerina and her goslings on their underground adventure, while the townspeople work to refill the pond. Kerr uses a minimum of lines to express a wide range of emotions–puzzlement, concern, curiosity, confidence, sadness, and joy. Simple details add dimension to the story. Foxes, rabbits, and moles live along the geese's route. Worms, ladybugs, and other soil dwellers crawl in the dirt. A playful cat chases a frog across several pages.

* 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 #30

Question: Which are funnier to watch, ducks or geese?


Results of Reader Poll #29

Question 1: If you could only have one duck on a desert island as a companion, which kind would you choose?

Pekin Duck 37%
Campbell Duck 19%
Mallard Duck 19%
Rouen Duck 6%
Runner Duck 19%
Swedish Duck 0%

Question 2: If you could only have one goose on a desert island as a companion, which kind would you choose?

Embden Goose 11%
Toulouse Goose 45%
Pilgrim Goose 0%
Chinese Goose 11%
African Goose 22%
Buff Goose 11%

Contact Us

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249


Our Newsletter

The Majestic Monthly is published 12 times per year. Previous issues are available in our Archives.


Broken Toenail/Torn Webbing

Protecting webbed feet is a vital necessity when you have a flock. Ducks especially can be quite clumsy and tend to stumble easily over small obstacles in their paths. In order to prevent injuries keep their yard free of sticks, rocks and nuts. Fill holes as they appear.

Avoid requiring your waterfowl to step up and over objects (especially through doorways); instead build up the ground to make broader, more natural ramps whenever possible. This solution is often safer than constructing ramps out of wooden boards. Ducks often fall sideways off of board ramps or hop off the ramp when they get near the bottom; either of these actions can lead to injuries.

Kiddie pools are a great swimming option for ducks and geese, but it is always best to dig out a hole and sink the pool into the ground rather than just placing it on top of the ground. Sinking the pool into the ground is much safer than asking your waterfowl to jump up over the lip when hopping in or out. This simple step can prevent leg, foot and toe injuries.

If your duck or goose breaks a toenail, which results in bleeding, the bleeding will most likely be minimal and stop all on its own without any intervention from you. If it is bleeding excessively, you can try to control it by applying pressure to the area using a clean gauze pad. If you cannot control the bleeding, call your vet for emergency assistance.

Once bleeding is controlled, you will need to address any damage to the bird’s toe or webbing. If the toenail was not completely severed, cut the remaining portion off with clippers.

Torn webbing does not normally require vet intervention as long as it is minimal (a straight tear, less than a ¼ inch in length), but it can’t hurt to call your vet and double check. Some situations do require stitching.

To prevent infection, put the bird in freshly drawn, clean water and allow them to swim in it for a few minutes to cleanse the wound. Remove the duck or goose and disinfect the injury using a hydrogen peroxide solution (following mixture directions on the h.p. bottle). Put the solution into a spray bottle and completely spritz the area. Spray bottles work very well because you can save the unused and uncontaminated solution for a few days. Spray the toenail/webbing area 3-4 times daily for about five days.

Remember: it is best to have a fully stocked waterfowl medicine kit on hand to help you react in emergency situations.

Clean the waterfowl’s yard and house and put down fresh bedding. Keep quarters as clean as possible to prevent infection while the toenail heals. If the bird is limping, you will want to keep them in smaller, more confined quarters—preferably sectioning them off in an area measuring around 4’ x 4’. This will encourage them to rest and stay off it for a little while. It is best to keep other flock members in sight, but outside of this penned area until the injured party is feeling better again.

Watch the injured area closely. If an infection occurs at any time, continue to use the h. p. solution and call your vet for immediate assistance. When in doubt, call your vet.

Zinc Poisoning

Some of our close friends experienced zinc poisoning amongst their flock. We wanted to share some preventative and treatment tips with everyone.

Avoid immersing galvanized wire into water

Zinc is used in the galvanization of wire. If you have galvanized wire in your pens, you want it to be vinyl coated whenever possible. If you have non-coated galvanized wire, you want to avoid any part of the wire being immersed in water or the zinc can leach into the water. The zinc can then be digested by your waterfowl when they drink the water. Some sources also indicate that it can also leach into the soil when it is buried underground.

Avoid metal feed & water dishes

Zinc can also be found in the coating of metal food and water pet dishes. Avoid metal food dishes at all costs. Always use plastic or rubber dishes to feed your pets.

Test your water

Have your pond and any water sources tested heavy metal toxicity; test lead and zinc levels. Zinc levels need to be specifically requested since they are not normally tested by many companies offering water testing services. If zinc levels are high, you will need to consult with them about remedying the problem. In the meantime, you will need to drain out or fence off access to any ponds and you will need to provide drinking water from another source. You may wish to do this while waiting for the test results (which can take up to two weeks) to prevent the further consumption of toxins.

Test your soil

Have the soil in your pens tested. Remnants of paint or chemicals poured into the soil can cause zinc toxicity. Fertilizers are also the source of zinc contamination. You may be able to bring a soil sample to a local university for testing. If zinc levels are high, you will most likely need to move the site of your duck enclosure. It is wise to test your soil before building your waterfowl enclosure to avoid any issues down the road.

Grain mixture mistakes

A bag of feed mixed improperly can also lead to high zinc levels. If an x-ray confirms no metal was swallowed (hardware disease) and you cannot determine the cause of zinc poisoning among your flock, you will want to examine their grain.

Although uncommon with name brands, grain companies do make mixture mistakes. The zinc levels could be too high in a batch of food. Your best bet is to stop feeding them from the bag on hand and purchase a new bag. Be sure to compare lot numbers on your current feed bag and purchase a new bag from a different batch. Contact the manufacturer if you need help finding this information on their packaging. You may wish to actually test a sample of the feed for confirmation. If it comes up positive, follow up with the manufacturer. Be prepared to fax / email them the label from the bag, information stamped on the bag and the lab’s test results.


Symptoms may include: lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, dehydration, excessive drinking, rubber legs (instability), drooping wings, anemia and seizures. Unfortunately, once they appear the condition is more difficult and takes longer to treat. This makes prevention your best defense. Test your water and soil before building waterfowl enclosures to avoid future mishaps.


In addition to isolating and eliminating the cause of the zinc poisoning, you will need to treat your affected flock members.

Zinc poisoning is different from lead poisoning in that zinc is able to work its way out of your bird’s system provided the source of contamination is successfully and completely removed.

Follow-up blood tests will need to be performed once treatment begins to verify that zinc levels are being reduced effectively. Be cautious, if you see a lot of up and down fluctuation that doesn't add up. Testing labs sometimes have trouble providing accurate results.


If your bird’s zinc levels are high enough to put them at risk, medication will be prescribed to bring their levels back under control.

Brand name: Cuprimine or non-brand name: Penicillamine will most likely be prescribed orally to draw the metals out of the body. 

Side Effects: Penicillamine is a chelater / chelating agent. This means that in addition to drawing metals from the body it will also draw calcium out of the body. Calcium chips / oyster shells should be removed at dosing times and then re-introduced two hours afterward.

Waterfowl of the Month

Some of our rescued friends have been with us for over a year now. We love our foster flock, but it is important that they go on to new homes with predator proof pens (no free range, please) to be loved by new families.

Finding new homes for our beloved friends is vital for their well-being and a necessary part of making space for newcomers that need the safety of our sanctuary.

Beginning this issue we will feature a duck or goose of the month in an effort to find them new homes. Perhaps a duck or goose in our sanctuary will strike your fancy. We hope so!

June’s Ducks of the Month are Winston & Mr. Pearl!

Winston & Mr. Pearl have been with us for a very long time, and we are not sure why. These boys are imprinted on humans and love interaction -- especially Winston. They have the funniest walk -- they have happy feet that pitter-patter really fast as they move along.

Winston & Mr. Pearl are best friends and enjoy being together. In spring & summer they get a little excited and need a small dividing pet fence set between them, but they still love each other dearly and are wonderful boys.

This pair endured living in a pet carrier on a neglectful pet sitter’s apartment porch before coming to us a couple years ago. Their owners were unable to reclaim them due to life changes.

These boys need a new home. They are so imprinted on humans as to be afraid of other drakes, so they can either go to a home with no other ducks or to a home with only hens. They are so trusting of humans that they fear to come out of their pen unless a person is escorting them and watching over them. They are only comfortable in a pen with top protection from flying predators.

If you have room in your family, please consider adopting Winston & Mr. Pearl!

If you can’t adopt these beautiful drakes, please consider sponsoring these wonderful boys by visiting our sponsor page.

       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