CULVER CITY ANIMAL SERVICES
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

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  BIRDS

  There are duck and ducklings in a dangerous or undesirable place. What should I   do?

Ducks commonly nest in perplexing spots, such as in backyards with barking dogs, on cement islands in the middle of parking lots or on the sidewalk of a busy intersection. Although these nests may fall prey to cats, dogs, or human malice, these ducks tend to choose nesting sites that allow them to see potential threats approaching the nest such as areas that are flat and where visibility is good. In urban and suburban landscapes, the areas that best fit this bill are often those that have been manufactured or maintained by humans.

The nesting process is a relatively short process with an incubation period of approximately 3 to 4 weeks. After which point, the duck will walk the ducklings away from the nesting area and to the closest water source, on foot. This process may seem dangerous but it is part of the normal development for ducks.

Ducks are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and it is illegal for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks and other migratory birds without proper state and federal permit. You must be a licensed facility and a licensed rehabilitator to have a wild bird in your possession for more than 24 hours. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have been trained to care for injured, sick, or abandoned wildlife birds; under these highly specialized training, the baby birds will be raised to be wild and will be returned to their natural environments when they are ready. As tempting as it may be, the majority of the birds which are cared for by well-meaning, but untrained people for more than 24 hours usually die as a result of improper diet, low temperature regulation, and aspiration.

If the ducks or ducklings are injured or deceased, contact Culver City Animal Services at 310-837-1221.

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  There are ducks/ducklings in my pool. Why are the duck and ducklings there and   how do I get them to leave?

Mother ducks do not have their babies in ponds or lakes because male ducks (drakes) are very aggressive. A mother duck must find a safe nesting place to birth and raise her young away from other ducks, including your pool. The mother will move her young when they are older and less vulnerable.

Ducklings can not fly until they are roughly 8 weeks of age. Therefore, the duck must go on foot wherever she wants to take her babies. This means crossing the busy street and in traffic. The duck and ducklings will likely stick around if there is plenty of water and food available. Please leave the ducks alone and do NOT put out food for the duck or ducklings, because it is important that they leave the area in search of better habitat. The ducks should move on eventually.

The best solution is to leave them alone, as long as the ducklings are able to get out of the pool. The mother will move her young when they are older and less vulnerable. If you must evict them, go to your local party store and buy silver mylar balloons containing cartoon faces on them with big eyes, and attach heavy weights to the string. Put the balloons around the perimeter of the entire pool, about every 20 feet. The balloons will bob in the breeze and make the ducks nervous. To enhance the harassment effect, you can also float a beach ball in the pool or use an electric boat. Try floating colored objects such as kid's toys or inflatables in the pool. If that doesn't discourage them, a pool cover will do the trick. Be careful not to use anything with rope or strings that can entangle or strangle a duck.

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  Can't I just move the duck and ducklings out of my pool and into a nearby pond or the La Ballona Creek?

No, ducks are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Therefore, it is illegal for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks and other migratory birds without proper state and federal permit. If the ducks and ducklings are injured, call Culver City Animal Services at 310-837-1221 and they can be safely transported to a licensed wildlife rehabber. People who mean well will sometimes make the mistake of gathering up the family and releasing them in nearby park ponds and lakes. Unfortunately, as soon as the male ducks spot the family, they may be attacked.

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  Ducklings are stuck or drowning in my pool. What can I do?

Although ducklings may look like competent swimmers, ducklings' abilities are limited early in life. The smooth lip feature of the pool can prevent ducklings from exiting the pool and the ducklings can either drown or succumb to hypothermia.

Use one of two options to help them out:

  1. Add water to the pool until it overflows. Ducklings should be able to walk out once the water level is even with the side of the pool.

  2. Provide a makeshift ramp. It can be fashioned from lighter, floating materials such as the lid of a Styrofoam cooler or a floating cushion from a deck chair. (If the ducklings do not use the ramp immediately, throw a few of these floating objects into the water so the ducklings at least have a means of getting out of the water until the ducklings can be removed or can locate the ramp.) If heavier materials such as wood are used, the end of the ramp sitting in the water can be made to float by attaching an empty soda bottle to its underside. To enable the ducklings to walk on it, the ramp should enter the pool at an angle of 45 degrees or less. If you drape a wet towel on the ramp, it will provide traction for the ducklings.

If the ducklings do not find the ramp or swim to the edge of the filled pool within an hour (or sooner if they begin to appear weak), use a pool skimmer or other long object to gently herd them in the appropriate direction.

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  Is the chlorine in my pool safe for ducks?

The chlorinated water in the pool is not harmful for ducks, ducklings and other waterfowl when used as directed. Please ensure that the waterfowl don't get sucked into any pool vents underwater.

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  What if I find an orphaned duckling?

Ducklings are rarely abandoned by the mother duck, who may be watching from a distance until the you leave the area. Ducklings spend long periods of time alone. The mother duck feeds them only a few times a day. You are unlikely to see her unless you are watching closely. It is best to leave the baby duckling alone unless it is in immediate danger. If the mother was seen recently, wait it out for an hour and see if she comes back.

If the ducklings are beginning to scatter, or you're not sure how long they've been alone, put a plastic laundry basket over them, upside down, to contain them while waiting for the mother to return. She will see them through the lattice sides of the basket and make contact. If she returns, slowly approach and overturn the basket so she can collect her young.

Do NOT let the duckling get wet! When ducklings get wet, ducklings must get under their mother who will then shed her protective oils onto her ducklings which will dry them. Ducklings have no feathers with barbicels that provide a waterproof barrier and therefore, no drying oils. A duckling's down absorbs water like a sponge. This wet down will quickly tire the duckling which can lead to the duckling drowning or succumbing to hypothermia. Once they are fully feathered, about 30-45 days after birth, ducklings are safe to be in water without their mother.

If you are certain the mother duck has been killed or hurt, immediately put the duckling in a warm, dark, and quiet place where it will not be disturbed, such as a box with a soft lining. Place the box on a heating pad on a low setting and call the Culver City Animal Services at 310-837-1221. The duckling will be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Wild birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and it is illegal for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks and other migratory birds without proper state and federal permit. You must be a licensed facility and a licensed rehabilitator to have a wild bird in your possession for more than 24 hours. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have been trained to care for injured, sick, or abandoned wildlife birds; under these highly specialized training, the baby birds will be raised to be wild and will be returned to their natural environments when they are ready. As tempting as it may be, the majority of the birds which are cared for by well-meaning, but untrained people for more than 24 hours usually die as a result of improper diet, low temperature regulation, and aspiration.

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  What if I see ducks crossing a busy street?

The sight of a duck or goose family walking along or trying to cross a busy road is a frequent occurrence during nesting season, particularly in urban areas. Almost invariably, such families are heading for a body of water where the young can be raised. The water source may not be obvious, but geese and ducks choose their nesting sites to ensure water will be within several yards of the nest.

Although it may seem the ideal solution to capture and relocate the birds to a water source, chasing a healthy duck or goose family will usually cause the adults to fly away and the babies to scatter which can cause greater harm than no action at all and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, predation is natural and ducklings have very poor survival odds. A mother duck can have two clutches of up to 15 baby ducklings per year, but only one or two per year might make it to adulthood. People who mean well will sometimes make the mistake of gathering up the family and releasing them in nearby park ponds and lakes. Unfortunately, as soon as the male ducks spot the family, they may be attacked.

Although it may seem the ideal solution to capture and relocate the birds to a water source, chasing a healthy duck or goose family will usually cause the adults to fly away and the babies to scatter which can cause greater harm than no action at all and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, predation is natural and ducklings have very poor survival odds. A mother duck can have two clutches of up to 15 baby ducklings per year, but only one or two per year might make it to adulthood. People who mean well will sometimes make the mistake of gathering up the family and releasing them in nearby park ponds and lakes. Unfortunately, as soon as the male ducks spot the family, they may be attacked.

Wild birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and it is illegal for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks and other migratory birds without proper state and federal permit. You must be a licensed facility and a licensed rehabilitator to have a wild bird in your possession for more than 24 hours. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have been trained to care for injured, sick, or abandoned wildlife birds; under these highly specialized training, the baby birds will be raised to be wild and will be returned to their natural environments when they are ready. As tempting as it may be, the majority of the birds which are cared for by well-meaning, but untrained people for more than 24 hours usually die as a result of improper diet, low temperature regulation, and aspiration.

Your own health and safety is of paramount importance. Please do not put yourself at risk in trying to help geese or duck families.

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  Ducklings fell through a sewer grate. What do I do?

Do NOT enter the sewer to rescue the ducklings. Sewers can often fill with lethal and toxic methane fumes and without the right equipment, you can place yourself in serious harm. Call the Culver City Animal Services Officer who has the resources and contacts to accomplish a safe rescue of the ducklings at 310-837-1221. Please be as specific as possible on the location to ensure that the Animal Services Officer can locate the ducklings.

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  I have found a baby bird. What do I do?

It is best to leave the baby bird alone. Baby birds have the best chance at survival with their parents. Unfortunately, not every bird that hatches will survive. Do NOT attempt to raise the baby bird on your own. Wild birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and it is illegal for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks and other migratory birds without proper state and federal permit. You must be a licensed facility and a licensed rehabilitator to have a wild bird in your possession for more than 24 hours. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have been trained to care for injured, sick, or abandoned wildlife birds; under these highly specialized training, the baby birds will be raised to be wild and will be returned to their natural environments when they are ready. As tempting as it may be, the majority of the birds which are cared for by well-meaning, but untrained people for more than 24 hours usually die as a result of improper diet, low temperature regulation, and aspiration.

Whether to place a baby bird back in its nest if accessible, depends on the age of the bird:

  1. Nestlings:
    • If the baby bird is sparsely feathered and not capable of hopping, walking, flitting, or gripping tightly to your finger, it is a nestling. If so, the nest is almost certainly nearby.

    • If you happen to find a very young bird and the nest is easy to reach, please return the bird to the nest as soon as possible.

    • Touching the baby bird will not make the mother bird abandon it because of a human scent. Most birds in your yard have a poor sense of smell. However, your scent may well lead predators such as snakes, raccoons, opossums and other hungry animals directly to the bird's nest.

  2. Fledglings:
    • If the baby bird is feathered, not yet ready to fly, but capable of hopping or flitting, and its toes can tightly grip your finger or a twig, it's a fledgling. Fledglings need a special diet, and they need to learn about behavior and vocalizations from their parents. We are poor subsitutes for the parents and often will unintentionally kill the baby birds with improper care, poor diet substitution and inappropriate behavior training to avoid predators. Please leave the fledgling birds alone.

    • The vast majority of baby birds on the ground are perfectly healthy fledglings. Their parents are nearby and watching out for them. The parents may be attending to four or five young scattered in different directions, but they will most likely return to care for the one you have found shortly after you leave. When fledglings leave their nest, they rarely return. These birds should NOT be put back into the nest. They should be put back where they were found or close to it so their parents can continue to feed them.

    • This is a very important time for the young birds to learn by observing their parents. This learning stage is probably the most dangerous time of a bird's life, but this is a very natural part of the development process for a baby bird. The fledgling birds should be left alone. They will learn about finding food, avoiding predators, and how to fly.

    • If you want to help, keep people and pets out of the area. It will take about 5-15 days before the baby can actually fly well.

  3. Orphaned:
    • If you know for a fact that the parent birds are gone, there is no way to put the babies back, or the babies are cold and limp, then they need to be rescued.

    • Remove the babies from the nest. Keep them in a small, dark, covered box with holes punched in the lid. Warm the babies by positioning a heating pad, set on LOW, under the box. Other ways to warm the babies are to fill a ziplock bag or rubber glove with warm water and place it in the box, or microwave a dish towel for 25 seconds (only warm enough that you can place the towel over your face) and use that. You can also hang a 40 watt light bulb over the box to produce warmth.

    • Do NOT put fresh green grass in the box because the moisture in it will chill them. You may line the box with paper towels.

    • Do NOT pet or handle the babies. They may gape (open their beaks) but do NOT feed them anything including milk, water, honey, egg or homemade formula because their stomachs will not tolerate these items and it is easy to drown a baby bird with fluid. It is recommended that you do NOT provide water or food as improper feeding methods can cause serious or even fatal problems.

If you have found both parents dead or are otherwise certain that the bird was orphaned or injured, your best course of action is to call the Culver City Animal Services at 310-837-1221. The baby bird will be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

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  My cat/dog attacked a bird. What do I do?

Any bird that has been caught or attacked by a cat must receive specialized care. Cats have bacteria (germs) in their mouths that will cause a bird to die, usually within 3 days, if left untreated. Call the Culver City Animal Services at 310-837-1221. The baby bird will be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

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  Is it true that if I touch a baby bird, the mother bird will abandon the baby bird?

It is NOT TRUE that if you touch a baby bird its mother will reject or abandon it. Most birds do not have a strong sense of smell and will not reject their young. If it is safe to do so, put the fallen nestling bird back in its nest or carry a fledgling bird out of danger and place it in a tree or shrub.

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  Please, go to the following links for more information:

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Culver City encompasses approx. 5 square miles and is home to approx. 40,000 residents. It is just minutes from LAX, Marina del Rey and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Downtown Los Angeles, making it ideal for residents, business, and visitors alike. For more information, click here for the official website for The City of Culver City.

Copyright © 2011, Culver City Police Department,  All rights reserved.

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