Ducks in the Neighborhood

Baby ducks found in Miracle Mile, human neighbors trying to figure out how to help
Baby ducks found in Miracle Mile, human neighbors trying to figure out how to help (photo from Erica Rodriguez)

It’s spring and there have been several sitings of ducks in the neighborhood checking out local swimmings pools presumably looking for a suitable place to nest. Now, not surprisingly, we are getting reports of baby ducks.

Leslie Gordon, of the LA County Natural History Museum said ducks are not the smartest animals and can make poor choices for nesting. But it’s generally considered better if humans don’t interfere and upset the balance of nature.

“We shouldn’t feed them because what we feed them isn’t necessarily what they should be eating,” said Gordon. “A mother duck has to learn where to lay her eggs and we have to stay out of it,” explained Gordon that natural selection will inevitably play out if it results in the loss of chicks from a lack of food or predators.

Other wildlife experts told the Buzz it’s best to leave wild animals alone unless they seem to be in imminent danger. Still it’s hard for humans to resist getting involved.

Miracle Mile resident Erica Rodriguez posted on Nextdoor that she and her neighbors on Detroit street had found nine baby duckings that someone had collected in a plastic bin, presumably to move them to safety, with the mother wandering nearby.  At some point, after neighbors tried calling various animal services,  the ducklings were reunited with the mother and found their way into the alley behind Liz’s Antique Hardware store on La Brea near the corner of 6th Street.

Mother duck at Liz's Antique Hardware on La Brea
Mother duck at Liz’s Antique Hardware on La Brea (photo from Paul at Liz’s Antique Hardware)

When workers at the store noticed the ducks in the alley they called upon fellow staff member Chris Mason, who has worked with animals at the LA Zoo, trained dogs and horses and is familiar with wildlife, to help figure out what to do for the ducks. According to Mason, while the humans were running around getting a large box and blankets to herd the ducks, the mother duck walked into the store with her ducklings following behind.

Mason thinks the ducks came from the lake pit at the La Brea Tarpits down the street and found their way into the neighborhood.

“After the ducklings hatch, the mother duck will move away from the nest, ” said Mason. “We were trying to herd the ducks into the box but the mother kept panicking and flying straight up into our chandeliers. Then she would calm down and come back down near the duckings we had herded into the box.”

But at one point, a customer opened the door and the mother duck flew out leaving Mason and her colleagues with seven ducklings. She told the Buzz she walked around the neighborhood for about two hours with the ducklings in a box hoping the mother duck would return if she heard the ducklings.

Unfortunately, Mason was not able to find the mother. She said she knew she needed to find a wildlife rescue to take the ducklings quickly because the babies were not likely to survive very long without their mother. She called a friend at the Pasadena Humane Society who agreed to take the ducklings. According to Mason, the Pasadena Humane Society will accept any wild animal but they only accept local dogs and cats. Since ducklings need to be near water, they were likely to be transferred to a wildlife refuge in San Pedro.

Megan Derry of Larchmont Village was stunned to see a mother duck and three ducklings walking down Plymouth Blvd and followed them into her back yard where they enjoyed a swim in her pool.

As adorable as they are, Ann Lynch, director and founder of the South Bay Wildlife Rehab which specializes in saving land birds like owls and hawks said it’s best to prevent ducks from settling in your yard if possible because they are very messy. Ducks can quickly pollute a pool and ducklings are not waterproof. Since very pools have a high water level, ducklings can’t just walk out the water and they will drown if they can’t get out of the pool. Derry shared a video of the ducklings trying to get out her pool. They weren’t able to figure out how to use the wood “ramp” that Derry put in but they eventually got out of the pool.

Lynch warns that it’s illegal to disturb an active nest. All birds, with the exception of starlings, house sparrows and pigeons, are protect under federal law. Instead she recommended taking a garden house and spraying the ducks to let them know it’s not a good place to nest. Lynch and her volunteers are well versed in wildlife rehabilitation having rescued thousands of birds over the years working with five local airports to relocate birds in danger.

Two ducks greet garden designer Judy Horton
Two ducks greet garden designer Judy Horton (photo from Libby Simon)

But even if you shoo them away, they may come back. Ducks are attracted to water and we have several bodies of water around us; the ponds at Wilshire Country Club, the Brookside stream and a lot of swimming pools, it’s quite likely that you could be visited by ducks looking to nest.

Over the past few weeks, a pair of ducks has visited our house sometimes flying directly into our pool, sometimes walking up the driveway as they did the other day to the delight of our garden designer Judy Horton.  Likely, they were looking for a nesting spot. But now, I won’t feel guilty taking out the garden house to shoo them off as Ann Lynch suggested. Hopefully, it will coax them back to a more suitable body of water than our pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, “Larchmont” for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier’s Books.

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