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Issue 42:  June 2008

In This Issue:

  We Have Power!
  Blindness
  The Month in Photos
  Majestic Newcomers
  Majestic Adoptions
  Recommended Reading

The Month in Photos!

Bindy Ballerina...

Blah, blah, blah! 

Lil Bo Peep in the grass...

Portrait of Tutter & Angelo

Elijah, please don't trip the kitty

Jeffrey and the lettuce boat

Mac & Bridget nose-to-nose

Which one is adoptable?

Majestic Newcomers!

Lil Bo Peep

Goliath... the gentle giant...

Majestic Adoptions

Coming full circle is both bitter and sweet... In May we said farewell to our dear friends Tutter & Angelo.

After such a long battle, and thanks to his "Leg-Up Supporters," Tutter was able to regain his full ability to walk.

Both boys went with Bindy and Tova to a new home to join two drakes named Mike & Ike.

Wishing them and their new family great joy in their new lives together.

Tutter & Angelo

Tova & Bindy

If you are a loving family and have a predator proof pen, please consider adopting!  Click here to fill out  our online adoption application.

If you can’t adopt, please consider sponsoring by visiting our sponsor page.

Recommended Reading*

The Domestic Duck

Product Description

The Domestic Duck is a comprehensive handbook for breeders, keepers and exhibitors of all kinds. It is illustrated throughout with photographs taken by the authors to show examples of the pure breeds and their management.

Click here to order.

* 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!

Contact Us

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249
director@majesticwaterfowl.org

Our Newsletter

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

We have power!

  

We're sending out this special thank you to our volunteers who helped us prepare for the installation of power lines to the barn. This direct source of power has enabled us to install our new water pump, which can keep up with the circulation requirements of our sanctuary. New water features are also being installed for added enrichment of our ducks and geese.

These sanctuary improvements were made possible by all of our sponsors and donors--thank you!


Blindness

Vet Care

Blindness can be the result of age, injury (especially from chickens, other ducks, geese or birds poking at eyes), genetics, cataracts or disease. After an initial vet examination to properly assess the situation, you should continue to visually inspect any injured eyes on a daily basis. If you see inflammation, swelling, moving cataracts or any other changes, contact your waterfowl vet. Your duck or goose may be experiencing pain and require further assistance or medication. Cataracts can sometimes be removed surgically by an experienced veterinary ophthalmologist, but it is often difficult to find a qualified vet of this sort who is willing to work on waterfowl.

During The Transition

Ducks and geese may demonstrate signs of fear, aggression or depression during the onset of blindness—or if blindness is sudden, during the period immediately following their loss of vision. You will need to be their support system during this time by offering love, companionship, stability and security. It is vital that you maintain/establish trust during this time. Your feathered friend needs you. Remember your birds need the same thing you would: time, patience, love and security.

Creating a Safe Pen

Ducks and geese should not be kept in free-range situations without supervision, and blind waterfowl are no different. They require completely predator-proof pens and a safe nighttime lock up as well. You will need to keep all digging, climbing and flying predators out of your waterfowl pen.

Assuming your duck or goose is already in their predator-proof pen, you will want to enhance it to make it safer for them. As with any waterfowl pen, make sure there are no pointy objects in their pen. Remove any rocks, sticks and tripping obstacles or anything they can stub their toes on (including a door jam leading into their house). Inspect their pen daily and fill any small holes in the ground that they can stumble into. Try to keep ground surfaces smooth and free of debris. Additionally, ramps are not safe for a blind pet; remove them. Remove anything the duck or goose can bump their head on or fall off of. You may need to modify/enlarge entryways leading into their house.

Routine & Consistency

Ducks and geese thrive on routine—blind waterfowl rely on it. Drinking water should be made available 24/7 to all ducks and geese. We highly recommend making food available 24/7 for blind waterfowl as well, so they consistently know where to find it.

Food and water should be easy for them to get to. If you do insist on a feeding schedule, keep to a strict schedule. If they eat all of their food, leave their empty food dish in their pen—do NOT remove it. Environmental consistency is vital. Always keep food and water bowls in the same location in their pen. Furthermore, keep EVERYTHING the same in their pen. Do not move things around or you will disorient them. Try to keep your interaction with them on a schedule as well—including topping off food and water bowls, so they know when to expect you and what you will be doing.

Rubber Mats to Guide Them

One tactic you can use to help your duck learn their way around their pen is by using textured rubber mats. You can make a path that leads to their food and water bowls or create a path into their house. These will act as tactile signals for them as to where they are in the pen. Be creative and help them utilize their sense of touch. Just remember to keep the mats in the same place; do not change them around.

Mats can also be very helpful around trees or bushes that you do not want them to bump into. Speaking of trees and bushes; be sure all plants are well pruned. You want a tall trunk, so that any branches and foliage reach well over and above the head of your blind duck or goose. You don’t want a branch sticking out that can poke an eye or cause injury.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Safety

Pool safety is vital to avoid drowning. Remember ducks and geese trapped on water can drown. Kiddie pools sitting on top of the ground are not safe even for healthy ducks who can stumble over them and suffer leg injuries while getting in and out. They are not safe for blind ducks or geese either. If you insist on using a kiddie pool, it is vital that you dig a hole in the ground and sink the pool into the ground. This removes the tripping obstacle while getting in and out. Small kiddie pools set up in this manner tend to be safe for blind geese, but blind ducks can easily become trapped in a kiddie pool (especially during the molt when they drop their primary wing feathers and lose their flapping power). Even a kiddie pool that is sunk into the ground is not safe for an un-chaperoned duck. There are two solutions, either keep the kiddie pool sunk into the ground in a gated section of their pen that they cannot access unless you are present, or build a special pond just for them.

To build a quick pond, you can dig out a small cavity into the earth with a slightly inclined ramp at one end. Then use a thick mix of concrete to seal the pond with a two inch surface all around. Now your duck can safely walk into their water source and get back out. Close monitoring is vital until your duck has mastered the pond’s location and can enter and exit it with ease.

We highly recommend placing a one foot cement lip around all edges of the pool to prevent your duck from pulling dirt into their pond while they are sitting on it. This sort of ducky fun will quickly make a muddy mess of things. This lip will also will give them a reliable signal when they are getting close to the water’s edge.

The great thing about his pond system is you can easily cement a small PVC outtake pipe in place at the deep end of the pond to create a drain. Then, to clean the pond, simply run a hose down into the deep end of the water and turn it on. The fresh water will flush out and replace the old water.

The one drawback of a concrete pond made in this fashion is, in colder regions, the pond will crack over the course of winter and will need a quick re-facing every spring. Keep in mind also that neither ducks nor geese should be allowed to sit on a small pond that can freeze over while they are in it. Sunk-in kiddie pools and small non-circulating, freezing ponds should be drained in winter and filled with hay or safely covered over to prevent a flock member from falling inside of them.

 

 

 

 

Companionship

If your duck or goose is alone, you should highly consider giving them a companion to offer them company and reassurance. If your duck or goose is completely blind, new flock members should not be welcomed in until your blind bird has completely adapted to their new situation and environment. If your duck or goose is slowly losing their vision, it can help to introduce a newcomer while they can still see. Avoid adding chickens as companions to blind ducks or geese, as they are known to peck at injuries and eyes. Instead, try to find a docile or shy duck or goose that is smaller in size than your blind bird. It is highly recommended to add a hen rather than a drake or gander as a companion to a blind duck or goose. Boys can sometimes get a little overzealous during the mating season (spring & summer) and accidentally cause injury to a special needs bird.

Exercise and Stimulation

Your blind duck or goose will need exercise; you do not want them spending their day sitting in the same place without any stimulation. If you notice this is occurring, you will need to go out and visit them more frequently and coax them to move around. Healthy green snacks can be a good way to reward them for moving around. Blind ducks can forage too—encourage them to keep up this behavior. This is where a companion for them can really help. Blind flock members will often follow sighted ones to avoid being alone. A good friend will keep them happily entertained, provide security and keep them moving around.

Harness and Leash

Use extreme caution when taking your blind duck or goose outside of the safety of their pen. If you insist on taking them for walks in the yard, you should invest in a high quality, well-fitted duck/goose harness and leash. When blind waterfowl get spooked, they tend to flap quickly across a yard and can put themselves into immediate danger; you will need to have constant control over them outside of the safety of their pen. Once you have your harness and have trained and made them familiar with it inside of their pen, you can begin to take them outside of their pen. Start out small. Don’t go far and don’t stay out long. Remember to keep to a routine. Walks should be on a timed schedule and the walk should be directed on the same path every day. You can go further along the path as your duck becomes more comfortable, but do not stray from the path.

Signal Sounds

When approaching the pen of your blind duck or goose, use a familiar sound to offer reassurance, so they know that it’s you coming. You can talk—call out a familiar phrase like “Mommy’s coming!” or whistle or even sing a song (my personal favorite!). This tactic works well with partially blind ducks and geese as well. Additionally, when dealing with blind feathered friends, some people tie a small bell around their belt loop or bootlace so their blind friend can hear them moving around in their pen. This works when taking them on leashed walks as well. Be careful to choose large bells, so if it happens to fall off it does not pose a choking threat to your flock.

           

Other ideas include a specific signal when visitors are coming over to visit your duck or goose. You can use bells, whistles, “clickers” (like the kind used in dog training), or any other unique sound. Whenever a stranger comes to the pen for a visit, be sure to make the sound and also ensure that your guest brings a treat for your duck or goose. This way, your feathered friend will know that the companion with you is safe and that they will get a treat upon meeting them—positive reinforcement. You may even want to introduce another specific sound/signal when you or a stranger is about to touch your pet duck or goose, this way the bird expects any physical contact before it actually happens and isn’t frightened.

Remember, small steps are best when working with blind waterfowl. Be consistent and adhere closely to routines. Blind ducks and geese can live enriched and productive lives; you just need to help them to do it. The time you spend with them can be rewarding for both you and your flock mate.

To purchase cute duck clickers like those featured above, Click Here.

       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 2008