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Our Natural World: Ducklings

Rip Van Winkle Ducks

When you're camping in the Catskills you're bound to come across all kinds of wonderful wildlife. We've seen baby bears nearby, baby deer walking along the park, and... 

I saw a…baby duck!!!

Baby ducks, called ducklings, are adorable. So teeny and fluffy with tiny little voices. It is as hard to stay away for humans as it is for predators. As many people have noticed we have had a couple of Mama ducks sitting on their nests. One of them is in a high human traffic area, probably chosen because fewer predators (like domestic dogs) frequent the area. 

It is tempting to go visit just to show the kids or snap a picture. Unfortunately, it can scare Mama away from her nest, abandoning the eggs. If you see a nest, please leave it alone and give Mama and her ducklings some space. 

Q: Why don’t they just move the nest? 

A: If the nest is moved even a little, the mother duck may abandon it. 


Q: Will mama duck abandon her duckling or her egg if a human touches it to put it back in a nest, etc? 

A: Ducks do not identify their ducklings by smell, so a stray duckling or egg can be put back by humans. 


Q: Can I get any diseases if I touch a duckling? 

A: Yes, you can get Salmonella. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap & water if you have been in contact with a duckling. Very young, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems should avoid handling ducklings, chicks, and lizards altogether. 


Q: If I can see a duckling bill through a small hole in the egg and hear it chirping, does it mean that it is in distress and needs my help? 

A: Not necessarily. Ducklings can take 36 hours to hatch. 


Q: How does RVWCG avoid problems with the law when they are working with the ducks? 

A: Although the ducks look like wild mallard ducks, they are actually a domestic breed called Rouen ducks. Another nest is of khaki Campbell ducks. 


Q: Did the adult ducks we see at the pond hatch here at the campground?

A: Sadly, no. We have never had any of our ducklings survive. They have all fallen prey to predators or mischief. Most of our ducks came to us as ducklings and were raised until they were old enough to move safely to the pond. Some of the ducks were adopted as adults when people were unable to care for them any longer. Occasionally we will have a visiting wild duck but they move on when it is time to migrate (unlike our ducks). 


2022 Offseason Update:

The ducklings aren't exactly ducklings anymore! They are full grown and fully feathered. They have totally assimilated into the original flock and can be seen swimming around happily. Just like the other ducks, they are quick to come for food whenever they see a person. Soon a pump will be placed in the pond that will circulate the water to prevent freezing. This allows the ducks to enjoy their pond through the cold winter season. 

watching the ducks at Rip Van Winkle Campground

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