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Mallard With Injured Leg?

11042 Views 12 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  amyable

I have a pair of Mallards that come to my garden twice a day for a feed. This is their second year and are quite tame, allowing me to sit next to them while they feed.
Problem is that yesterday, Mrs Puddleduck as I call her was holding one leg up. She does manage to use it to walk, but holds it high when standing, and tends to lie down to eat and drink now.
Today it seems to be giving her more trouble and she drags it more when walking.

I was wondering if she might have leg paralysis if she's due to be laying any time. Can this happen to ducks the same as pigeons?

Is there any way I can tell, I'd rather not upset them by catching her if I can help without.

I had a closer look this morning while she was eating by me and I can't see an injury although it sticks out to the side a bit.
No trouble flying.

Any advice welcome.


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That's a tough call, Janet. The leg could be just sprained and will be ok in a few days or could be broken and won't ever be ok without treatment. I don't know how it is in the UK, but here, it's a real crap shoot to take in a Mallard with a broken anything .. they may or may not get fixed .. most likely euthanized because they are a common bird and there is no "need" to try and fix any of them.

Thanks Terry anyway,

I watched her landing last night when she came to feed and she does come down like a bombshell. It could well be she has damaged it in landing sometime recently.

They still haven't settled a nesting site as they both visit together, so I'd feel bad if I caught her and her mate was left alone.
She was up on the roof today, so is managing somehow.

I put some calcium supplement in the water last night and she drank loads so hope that helps in some small way.

It would probably be the same here as far as vets go, I certainly don't know of one who'd deal with ducks normally, so I'll just have to keep an eye on her and if she's struggling, then step in then.

Thanks for replying anyway,

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Hi Janet, We feed a pair of wild ducks (closely related to mallards) in our yard too; they are gorgeous, aren't they? I love their chilled- out natures, and their little quack sounds.

They visit us each year just before she incubates her eggs, which can be 2-3 times in the breeding season depending on the success of her broods (sadly, her entire ist and 2nd broods fail to make it sometimes).

Mallards lay one egg at a time, cover it up, then return the next day to lay another one until she has 12-16 eggs. During that time she will be very hungry & thirsty. After all the eggs are laid, she will disappear for about a month to incubate the eggs and raise her hatchlings.

I'm sorry to hear that her foot is hurt. Its the kind of injury she can survive on her own by the sounds of things, but she could wind up with a wonky leg. If you're really worried, you could talk to a rehabber about it. I agree with you that its a tough call because she might have started laying eggs. But on the other hand these eggs will not hatch on their own witout incubation, so its not as cruel as taking a mother away from a nest with live babies in it.

Personally, a few of my favourite wild birds get leg injuries each year just in the normal course of breeding season. Some look like breaks, and other seem more like sprains. They always make it though.
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Hi Bella,

Thanks for that info. 12 to 16 eggs !!! I didn't know that. Wow she will be busy.
These two were the ones that were here last year I'm sure. The first day they appeared this year, they came right up to my patio door and looked in, just the same as they did last year when they wanted feeding. So I'm sure as they were that confident, they had been here before.

She was sitting on the roof last night and had her leg held up still, but this morning she was using a little bit more, so I'm hopeful it's a sprain of some sort as opposed to a break. At least she does seem able to manage. She had a swim in my little pond today, so maybe she's getting some hydro-therapy !!!

They haven't been back tonight which makes me think they might be nesting now. Last year they nested in my neighbours garden but the eggs didn't make it. Too many preditors about I'm afraid.

Let's hope they have more luck this year with their babies.

Hi amyable,

I'd love to have our ducks nest in our yard, but we have too many predators around too. They seriously thought about nesting here last year, and even stayed the night once to check the area out, but they seemed to realize it wasn't safe.

I hope your lady duck will be ok, and that some of her brood makes it!
Just thought I'd let you know, Mrs Puddleduck's leg is looking a lot better today, she's actually holding it in a more normal position. I think it must have been a sprain after all from a bad landing.

She's still coming to feed so no nest yet I would think.

I'm pleased that my dogs seem to have got used to them which was a worry last year as I know they chase the pigeons. Yesterday they actually walked straight past the ducks while they fed. Luckily the ducks are wary of them still.

That's great news, thanks for the update. You might be able to get some clues about whether they are breeding or not from how she is eating. Usually when she's about to lay eggs, the female will a lot hungrier than the male, she'll really wolf her food down. Sometimes you'll even be able to see the bulge of eggs in her tummy too, and she'll have more difficulty with flying.

Well, I think she is nesting now as they are coming separately to feed since last night.
You are right about her eating more then him, she comes straight up and takes the majority while he's a little shy and holds back. I noticed last night, the first time he came alone, as soon as I went out he flew away, only feels secure when she's with him, bless ! :) I put his food out before he came today, so he wouldn't be startled, but he had to share it with some Jackdaws who saw it first.

She has been this morning alone and great news, her leg is fine now. Does make me wonder if it was to do with eggs causing her a bit of paralysis after all, whatever it was, she's walking ok again, so that's good.

I have muscovy ducks and I have seen some of them go lame during the breeding seasons. (But the males are much heavier than the females, maybe that is why?) But either way, I do exactly like you did. I increase my oyster shell for the ducks and they seem to eat so much more of it.
I have three nest, or rather I have found three nest, good lord knows how many I have not found! The hens seem happy and are walking, flying much better.
The males seem like they are lost, just walking around, wagging their tails and shaking their heads up and down when I ask if they are hungry. I know they can not understand me, but it is funny to watch their response when I talk to them. I hope you have many ducklings.

Just must keep your camera charged up for some cute baby pictures when they come.
Yes the male looks so lost when she's not about. I don't know where their nest is but I hope they get some chicks this year. I just saw two ducks lying in the middle of a field a short while ago as I passed, I sure hope they weren't nesting out there in the open, a bit risky ! :eek:
My pair of Duckies are back too, its so awesome to see them again. They were away for around 3-4 months, which I hope means that they raised a successful brood of cute ducklings somewhere.

The male acts just like you both described; he kind of holds back, and follows her lead in most things. Like if she decides to waddle up the back of the yard, he follows her, and if she comes back for one last bite of food, he waddles after her. He's so good:) I'd love to live in a place some day where they could raise their duckling around me.

PS. I'm glad Mrs Puddleduck's leg is better. I wouldn't be surprised if her egg-laying caused temporary paralysis either, its seems very feasible considering all thsoe huge eggs she has to lay.
Any pictures welcome !!!
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