Situations & Solutions

Mallard © Atamari, wikicommons
Mallard © Atamari, wikicommons

Mallards thrive in developed areas, where they occasionally come into conflict with people. They may swim in backyard swimming pools, nest in fenced-in areas surrounding pools, or nest under foundation plantings next to houses. 

When a female nests within a fenced-in area, problems can arise due to the fact that the ducklings are unable to fly until they are about 60 days old. Additionally, people are often tempted to feed ducks and geese.  

Ducks & Swimming Pools

During the winter, rain and snow may accumulate on the covers of swimming pools, along with leaf litter and debris. This creates a temporary habitat for aquatic invertebrates come springtime. 

Owners of swimming pools often discover that a pair of ducks—almost always Mallards—has taken over this newly created pond and is eating the invertebrates. Here's what to do if you encounter this situation > 

Ducks Nesting in Enclosed Areas

Mallard mother and ducklings © Brocken Inaglory, wiki commons
Mallard mother and ducklings © Brocken Inaglory, wiki commons

Female Mallards often nest in enclosed spaces such as the courtyard of a building or a fenced yard (most often with a swimming pool). Though the mother duck is able to fly in and out of the area, the newly hatched young cannot escape. Although they can walk immediately after hatching, they are unable to fly for approximately the first 60 days.

Once the ducklings hatch, gather several people together and slowly and quietly herd them toward an exit. If the only route is through a building, place the ducklings in a shallow box and slowly carry it outside. The female may follow if she can hear her offspring. Place the box on the ground—if the mother’s nearby, tip the box so the young can run out and join her. 

If she is not present, place the box on the ground and wait out of sight for her return. If you noticed that the female always flew out of the enclosure in the same direction while she was tending to the nest, put the box on that side of the building.

Don’t Feed the Waterfowl

Giving food to ducks and geese can create many problems for birds and the environment. Both Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) discourage it. Find out why feeding ducks & geese is not recommended >

Ducks, Geese, & the Law

Many of the birds we encounter are protected in some way by local and national laws. Learn more >