Wildlife rehab centre seeks mallard 'supermoms' to adopt ducklings

The Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Winnipeg is looking for feathered 'supermoms' to foster their growing number of orphaned mallard ducklings.

31 ducklings at Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation in need of mallard foster moms

The Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is hoping Winnipeggers can keep an eye out for mother ducks with large numbers of ducklings in tow. The socalled 'supermoms' are more likely to take in the orphaned ducklings currently in the care of the rehabilitation centre. (courtesy of Lisa Tretiak)

The Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Winnipeg is looking for feathered "supermoms" to foster their growing number of orphaned mallard ducklings. 

The ducklings wound up at the centre after compassionate citizens picked them up on the side of the road after their mothers were killed. 

In total the centre has 31 ducklings from six families in its care. Lisa Tretiak, president and co-founder of the centre, said members of the public who have turned ducklings over to them have done the right thing.

"They quickly collect all the babies before they scatter into the ditches or back onto the road," said Tretiak. 

"They know to collect them because without a mother they're not going to survive on their own. They do need to have an adult bird to look after them at night, take them where they need to go for food and water." 

The babies are being looked after by officials at the rehab centre, and although they're warm and safe in the centre's "brooders," their future is uncertain. The ideal situation, Tretiak said, is if volunteers can help them find the wee ones a new mother.
The Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is currently taking care of 31 orphaned ducklings. (courtesy of Lisa Tretiak)

Mallard 'supermoms' rare 

While female mallard ducks do not always welcome another mother's ducklings into their clan, there are some who do, said Tretiak.

"You can [sometimes] find what we call a 'supermom'; these are ducks or geese that will take on lots of other babies," said Tretiak.

Supermoms can have 12 or more babies in tow, she said.

"We would love to know where those ones are because then we could actually put our ducklings with her and she would be able to look after the whole group," she said. 

"She's sort of a babysitter of everybody else's babies and she just sort of takes them on as a mother and just sort of takes everybody's babies with her."

Tretiak said there's bound to be a few supermom mallards floating around in Winnipeg ponds and streams.

The 31 ducklings are being given special food and water right now, but they ultimately need access to bigger bodies of open water.

"We give them a short amount of time in water, because right now they're just fuzzy little ducklings," she said, adding they get very drenched in water and can get chilled and die.

"We give them a shallow dish of water so they can have a little fun in the water, and then we remove it after a short period of time so that they can dry off."
The rehabilitation centre hopes if it locates some supermoms, the ducklings can be returned to the wild. (courtesy of Lisa Tretiak)

Back into the wild soon 

The ducklings are still afraid of people and the centre hopes they can be reintegrated into the wild soon.

"We cannot teach them alarm calls, how to be afraid of certain things," Tretiak said. "We can do what we can to raise them, keep them not dependent on humans, keep them afraid of humans, afraid of everything, so that when we release them, they will have that reaction to not trust anything and hopefully survive to breed the next year."

It's a real possibility these ducklings could be fostered with supermoms, she added. Volunteers would match the ducklings to the approximate age of the supermoms' ducklings. 

Right now the centre has ducklings that just hatched Friday, ones that are one-week-old and ones that are about two-weeks-old. 

Anyone who comes across a duck supermom is asked to contact the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.