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Ducklings and Goslings, Oh My!

Is there anything more endearing than a baby bird? Whether it’s a fluffy yellow-brown duckling, a waddling gosling or even a wide-eyed owl baby, baby birds have a soft spot in every wildlife lover’s heart. And with the blooms and greenery of spring come the birth of wildlife babies around Alberta.

AIWC has been receiving plenty of calls lately about ducklings and goslings.

Ducklings and goslings can be stranded for a number of reasons such as late hatching, injury, human/pet interference or simply getting lost.

Here are some tips in case you come across one of these baby birds:

Look for Mom! Female ducks tend to stay close to their babies and Mom could be nearby. If possible, it’s always best to leave babies with Mom because she knows exactly how to care for them. If you’re wondering whether or not the baby is flying solo, remember that ducklings stay under their mother’s care until they are ready to fly. If you observe a gosling or duckling alone for more than 45 minutes, the babies could be in trouble. Call AIWC.

It’s okay to move a baby duck that is injured or in danger. The mother duck will not reject the baby because of human scent.

Orphaned ducklings need professional care, right away. They can die from the cold because they can’t generate their own body heat. Keep in mind that ducklings are fragile and can be easily injured or bruised if mishandled. They are very fragile! Call AIWC!

Unlike geese, ducks won’t adopt lone ducklings. Ducks recognize their babies by sound and will notice the outsider. If you are holding a duckling that is “peeping” a mother duck should come running up right away!
(Geese on the other hand are fine with accepting new babies and don’t seem phased by the additions! In fact, AIWC volunteers have rescued and rehomed 46 geese and goslings this year).

Always remember that if a duckling or gosling’s parents are near by, you need to leave the baby where you found it.

It’s always okay to call AIWC for advice in any wildlife situation. For more information on how you can support AIWC, visit

By Nina Grossman, AIWC Volunteer

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”

-Margaret Mead







4 thoughts on “Ducklings and Goslings, Oh My!”

  1. We saw a pair of geese and 14 young ones following. They were going along a Getty a. After awhile one of the babies got left behind a the group went about a kilometer across the bay. Will either of the parent geese return looking for the one left behind? So sad to see!

    1. Hi Craig,

      If you haven’t already, please call our Wildlife Hotline. They usually stay in a group at all times. Thank you!

  2. Weronika Szczypka

    What do I do if I see a duck with a family of geese? There is a family of geese not too far living by the river. One of the babies is a duck. I’m concerned that once it starts getting older the geese will attack. Is it normal for a goose to raise a duck?

    1. Katrina Terrill

      Hi there, it’s certainly an unusual situation but you likely don’t have anything to worry about. Geese are extremely good parents, and will often adopt orphans of their own species. Adopting a duckling is a bit odd, but they will likely continue to raise the duckling to adulthood. Geese are not generally aggressive except in defense of their babies – we’d actually be more concerned if you saw a gosling with a group of ducks, as ducks can be quite vicious!

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