The Majestic Monthly

WATERFOWL NEWS FLOWN IN FRESH OFF THE PRESS

Issue 5: May 2005

In This Issue...

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Update on Elijah

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Rebuilding our enclosure

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How to build an enclosure

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Digging the Pond

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Get to know your predators: Coyotes

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Two Toulouse Geese in Florida need a home

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The Month in Photos!

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Reader Poll #5
 

Digging the Pond

We are thrilled to announce that we found a local volunteer willing to donate his time and equipment to dig out the pond in our new enclosure. As soon as permits are pulled and the June/July draught comes, we will begin digging. Although his equipment is large enough to handle the job now, with the stream running, we need to wait for the dry season to pour the cement basin of the pond. If you have carpentry skills and are interested in helping us construct our concrete forms, please contact us to volunteer.

Get to Know Your Predators: Coyotes

A Northeastern Coyote weighs in at about thirty pounds for a female and forty pounds for a male. They will hunt nearly any animal that they can overpower. Coyotes are opportunistic predators, so if they see something easy to catch, they will attack it. For pet owners, coyotes are a real danger. They will eat cats and small dogs. They are also infamous for killing chickens, ducks and geese. Coyotes are nocturnal and are most active at night, at dawn, and at dusk.

Coyotes can be heard yipping and howling near our sanctuary as soon as the sun goes down and then well into the night. Although some sources will say they prefer to avoid areas inhabited by humans, we have seen hungry coyotes gazing through our duck enclosures on a few occasions. The first time I saw one, I thought I was looking at a dirty golden retriever with a bushy tail until I saw the profile of its muzzle. Even when I barreled down the hill to chase him off, he only moved away as far as the edge of the lawn. He didn’t leave the premises until my husband joined me outside and he was clearly outnumbered.

If your duck enclosure/housing is inadequate and you have coyotes, you will soon be without your feathered friends because the coyotes will continue to return until there is nothing left to take. In our area, packs come through wipe out all the wild prey (squirrels, rabbits, foxes) and then move on, only to return later when prey animals have replenished themselves. 

Coyotes can jump upward over four feet, and like many dogs have been known to actually scale fencing, so your fence should be at least six feet tall. You want a fence strong and tight enough that a forty-pound coyote can jump up on it, with paws up on the wire, without causing any damage. Large guard dogs can be a good deterrent, but remember to protect your ducks from your dogs.

Two Toulouse Geese in need of a home in Florida

Update: A local humane society in Florida has agreed to rescue the geese and bring them to a farm animal sanctuary to live.

We received an email from a woman named Jan who is concerned about two Toulouse geese on a pond in Clearwater, Florida. She tells us the geese were part of a group of about ten whose numbers have dwindled over the years due to attacks from stray dogs, coyotes, and humans.

Jan has contacted a number of local rescuers and humane societies and none of them are willing to help. Probably the geese were dumped there by irresponsible owners who thought they could live in the wild even though they are farm animals.

The geese she tells us are quite friendly and thus would be easy to catch. The two remaining geese are probably male and female as they are quite bonded.

The Month in Photos

Talulah arrives!

Elijah flaps his way into recovery!

Photo from Standish's new family

Reader Poll #5

Question: Do you believe your birds are safe from predators?

Yes
No
Not sure

Voting Has Closed.
Please see next issue for results.

Results of Reader Poll#4

Do you have a waterfowl or avian vet you can take your duck or goose to in the event of a medical emergency?
 

Yes  55%
No  18%
I need to locate one!  27%
   

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. Back issues can be obtained online from our Newsletter Archives.

 

 

Update on Elijah

First and foremost, we would like to extend a very special thank you to everyone who came forward and donated towards Elijah’s care while he is in our sanctuary. If you have not yet made a donation and would like to, please click here. If you are interested in sponsoring Elijah while he is in our care, please visit our sponsorship page.

Elijah was adopted in February and was brought back to us in April after he and his mate Lucy were attacked by what is suspected to have been a raccoon. Elijah sustained serious head, leg, bill, and wing injuries in the confrontation, but through it all, he hung on. His family brought Elijah to their veterinarian for emergency care and once stabilized, they brought Elijah to us to be sure that Elijah could continue on his path to recovery in the presence of other ducks. The psychological value of flock-mates is invaluable in uplifting spirits and encouraging a surviving duck’s will to live.

Elijah was kept in our infirmary. Shavings were cleaned and changed throughout the day to ensure a germ-free environment. His trauma was evident by the pounding of his heart, heard across the room as we handled and medicated him. He took many baths, which involved filling and draining the tub multiple times to ensure the cleanest water possible. Hydrogen peroxide was misted into his non-facial wounds in an effort to keep them from becoming infected.

Elijah spent the afternoon and evenings in the company of two feathered volunteers from our barn. Deirdre, our resident Pekin hen, sat with Elijah for a few hours in the afternoon and Talulah, a Muscovy hen, enjoyed a few hours of visitation in the evening. Both hens were placed in carriers facing Elijah, allowing for visual and vocal contact, but preventing any stitch-pulling mishaps.

Every day that passed was another good day, but the milestone was getting him to survive through the first weekend. Elijah’s fear began to fade and his heartbeat could no longer be heard pounding through his chest during medication times. By Saturday afternoon, he was able to spend a few hours in a kennel in the barn, padded with a thick layer of clean shavings. By the time Sunday came around, he had made the permanent move to the barn.

Elijah went to see our vet the Monday after his arrival, and we are happy to say that the news was good. No sign of infection was present. He was given the “You’re one very lucky duck,” and sent home to continue his round of antibiotics. As long as we don’t experience any setbacks, Elijah will be receiving follow-up vet care on a bi-weekly basis for continued monitoring. Once he is in a safe point of his recovery, our vet believes that the broken tip of Elijah’s upper bill will need to be trimmed and cauterized to avoid further damage.

We would like to thank Elijah’s family for sparing no expense in providing all of his initial life-saving medical care. We are also in their debt for recognizing that, above all, his recovery was dependant upon the company of other ducks. We know how difficult it is to part with a beloved pet, but their sacrifice has ensured Elijah’s survival. No duck should be alone. Our deepest regrets to his family for their loss of Lucy; she was a beautiful and friendly lap duck who we truly enjoyed meeting. Lucy’s photograph can be seen with Elijah in our March newsletter.

In the days and weeks to come, we will continue to post photos and bring you updates regarding Elijah’s recovery.


Rebuilding our small waterfowl enclosure

Our small 25’ x 25’ sanctuary, constructed of 4’ x 4' pressure treated wood and galvanized wire, gave out in the last snowstorm (the ducks were safely in the barn, of course). We completely tore it down in March and have been rebuilding and enlarging it over the last few weeks.

The new enclosure measures 25’ x 35’ and is constructed of a concrete perimeter, steel kennel poles, wire mesh underground predator barriers, a poultry wire aviary net, and concrete swimming basins. Once the new pond is completed in the larger enclosure, water will be pumped up into these cascading concrete basins enabling fresh water to flow through on a whim. The enclosure can easily be divided into three decent-sized sections to accommodate separations. Each section also has a little house, providing shelter from rain and sun.


How to build a safe enclosure for waterfowl

Since opening, one of the questions we are frequently asked is how to build a safe enclosure for ducks and geese. Many waterfowl owners are interested in knowing the type of enclosure they need to build for their pet ducks and geese in order to keep them safe from predators.

Detailed below are step-by-step instructions for an easy-to-build, quick, and affordable DAYTIME enclosure for ducks and geese. Ducks and geese need to be locked up at night to be kept safe; ideally the nighttime enclosure (typically a small lockable house or shed) can be situated right inside the daytime enclosure, offering a double-barrier against predators. It also makes the task of rounding up your birds and getting them in the nighttime enclosure a lot easier.

Friendly Reminder: All gates and doors of both daytime and nighttime enclosures should be sealed tight with padlocks. Some predators, such as raccoons (and neighbors), have very agile “fingers” and are excellent at opening latches.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Daytime Enclosure

  1. Draw your plans on paper.
  2. Measure and spray paint your floor plan for the enclosure onto the ground
  3. Dig an 18-inch trench where your enclosure’s perimeter will be.
  4. Space and sink kennel posts (we used 10’ kennel posts) into the ground along your perimeter, in your18-inch trench. The spacing in between the perimeter posts will be determined by the length of the kennel top & bottom rails you choose (we used 10’ rails). Sink the posts into the ground and pour Quikcrete (premixed cement) around them to hold them firmly in place. Allow cement to dry thoroughly. Don’t forget to plan for a gate!

  1. Assemble bottom kennel rails by connecting them with kennel hardware to the bottom of the sunk-in perimeter posts. The bottom rails are laid down in the 18” perimeter trench.
  2. Assemble your top kennel rails by connecting them with kennel hardware to the tops of the perimeter posts.
  3. Weave your aviary net. You can weave your own aviary net VERY inexpensively and VERY easily—and a good sturdy one at that. Purchase one-inch (hole), galvanized poultry wire and cut it to the size of your enclosure, then sew it together using tie wraps. For Example: If your enclosure will measure 20’ wide by 25’ long, you would need to buy a single roll of 4’x 100’ galvanized, one-inch (hole) poultry fence and a single roll of 4’x 25’ fence (approximately $50 total). Cut the rolls into five sections, each measuring 25’ in length. Lay the five lengths of fence out in a giant 20’ x 25’ square and then tie wrap the sections together. Place a tie wrap about every 4-5 inches apart to sew your five sections together. It's easy to do and it moves along fairly quickly. BE SURE TO DO THIS ASSEMBLY INSIDE OF THE ENCLOSURE’S PERIMETER, to prevent you from having to drag it in through the gate later. Keep it laid out on the ground in the enclosure; you can walk on it while you are working through the remaining steps.
  4. Wire the perimeter fencing firmly and tautly to the perimeter posts. Make sure the fencing you choose is rustproof and cannot be bitten through. We recommend a thick, galvanized, and (if possible) pvc-coated, wire fencing. Make sure the mesh of the wire is tight enough to stop predators from crawling through the holes. Both raccoons and weasels have been known to gnaw through poultry wire, so you may need to shop around to find the best barricade for your area’s predators. You may also find it necessary to double fence; that is, to put up two types of mesh fencing to compliment each other and strengthen the barrier between your waterfowl and potential danger.
  5. Dig a ditch on the outskirts of your perimeter, like a moat. The ditch should go down six inches and extend outwards at least two feet. This will be your digging predator barrier. Place welded “rabbit wire” mesh down in the ditch. Fasten one end of the wire to the bottom rails of the perimeter. Cover the wire mesh with dirt and replace sod or plant grass seed to hide the wire mesh.
  6. Cover the bottom kennel rails of your perimeter, filling the 18” trenches. Plant grass.
  7. Wire the aviary net to the top rails of the perimeter fence. Put up prop-up poles inside of the enclosure, about every 5-6 square feet as needed to raise the net up. Make the poles tall enough for comfortable entry, so you are not bumping your head. We used 5" diameter tree trunks as prop-up poles to give the enclosure a more natural look (and to save money!).
  8. Set up a kiddy pool and a shelter/house.

       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 2005