KOI PONDS AND DUCKS - IS IT A GOOD IDEA?
 
  
Woody and Max
 
  
Mandy and Winnie watching the guys show off.
  Winnie and Woody out for a swim. 
 
 
    Winnie and Woody on the board, Max going in (just below board)
Ducks on diving board 
    Winnie and Woody's turn 
     
Woody the duck is ready to dive 
    Winnie dives, Woody next 
     
 
 TO HAVE DUCKS IN YOUR POND OR NOT!
 
FOR
AGAINST
1. Wood ducks and Mandarins are the most beautiful of all of the smaller ducks. 

2. Ducks diet includes plants and string algae - they can clean the worst kind of algae from a pond. While I would not choose to introduce ducks into a pond for this reason alone, string algae would be a major factor in the decision. 

3. Ducks can become wonderful pets and are fun to watch. As shown above, our ducks use their diving board throughout the day. 

4. They make a wonderful wildlife addition to a backyard nature conservatory. People are amazed to see "wild ducks" in a city backyard environment. 

5. Wood ducks and Mandarins seem to develop personalities and traits of the own, which increases the enjoyment of your pond and back yard. 

6. Ducks love to eat slugs, bugs, and even pull weeds - I have yet to find a desirable plant of ours that they eat! 

7. Wood Ducks and Mandarins are very quiet, making very muted sounds which neighbors never hear.

1. Ducks, like any animal do create waste products that will land on your pond sides and in the water - Roughly equivalent to several large koi. Easily hosed off. 

2. Ducks eat plants and can go through quite a few water hyacinths and water lilies in a season. Don't expect to keep ducks and beautiful water lilies together. 

3. Ducks will eat or kill small koi (fish 4-5 inches in length would be in danger). 

4. Ducks could become easy prey to cats, hunting dogs, hawks and eagles. The same protection recommended for your pond (a locked 6 ft fence) will also protect your ducks against the dogs and human predators. 

5. Ducks may require winter protection in extreme northern climates. They need a source of water year round. 

6. Wood ducks may require a federal or state permit to own or ship across state lines. The permits are usually easy to acquire and more often than not a formality. 

7. Discourage wild ducks from entering your pond and bringing in parasites and disease.

First of all, please understand that we are talking about tame or captured ducks only. Wild ducks should be discouraged from using your pond due to the possibility of their bringing in parasites and possibly diseases to attack your fish. Your own ducks will be remaining in your own pond and not contributing to it's disease.

One person's story

A year ago my wife remembered seeing a pair of wood ducks at a koi pond during a pond tour. The pair had some baby ducks which she had thought were cute and was wondering if they were practical to have a pair in our pond.

I researched the subject and learned where I could purchase a pair of wood ducks and mandarin ducks. I also discovered that ducks must be pinioned (wings clipped at the joint to prevent flight) to prevent their flight into other yards and for their protection. Please note that while some consider this cruel, if done while chicks, they do not suffer, and they recover nicely. I ordered them for delivery for my wife's birthday present. I couldn't keep it a secret due to the logistics of delivery and preparations. She was excited beyond belief at this unusual birthday gift. They were shipped and delivered with no problems. My wife has been ecstatic ever since and still counts this as possible her best (and certainly the most unique) present ever!

As you can see in the pictures above, our pairs of wood ducks (Winnie and Woody) and our pair of mandarin ducks (Mandy and Max) have adapted well to our back yard pond and wooded area nicely. I built them a diving board to extend out from our small deck and over the pond. It was an immediate success! The ducks were diving off the board that afternoon and use it all day long.

Our 9,000 gallon pond and half acre lot seems adequate for 4 ducks, but I don't think that I would recommend that someone start out with two pair at first. It would probably be best to acquire one pair to make certain that you have the space and a bio-filter system with the extra capacity, the add another pair if desired.

Whenever I talk about ducks, I have talked about pairs because it seemed the only way to have them. It seems that it may be cruel to have a single duck and therefore I have limited our discussion to pairs. I am sure that some will want a single duck and in that event I would recommend a male for their brilliant colors.

Requirements

While ducks can be raised with small tubs of water, a large pond will allow them to really show off. Our ducks often dive under the water, only to pop up 10 to 15 feet away. If possible, make your pond 3-4 ft deep so they can dive. A small island, dirt or floating platform will provide protection against predators if they are nearby. Even though they can't fly, they will often begin flapping their wings and skim across the water in the appearance of flying low over the pond. They obviously enjoy their "flights" and will do this several times a day for exercise. 

Water cleanliness is important, so you must have a way of flushing dirty water and waste from the pond periodically. A drain, overflow, etc. with nearby hose will make the job simple.

Ducks will require cracked corn or scratch (a mix of cracked corn and various grains), plants or vegetables such as water hyacinths, water lilies, lettuce, etc. They will require water near their food, and a place such as a pond to swim. They love to climb onto rocks or boulders, dog houses, or any high object (in the wild, they live in trees).

Cover or a wind break may be necessary during the cold winter months as protection from bitter cold winds. If you live in the north, a dog house or other small shelter may be necessary for protection against cold, bitter, northern winds in the coldest part of the winter.

Origins 

The Wood Duck (aix sponsa), AKA Carolina Duck, is native to the east and west coast of North America. The Mandarin Duck (aix galericulata), AKA Chinese Teal, is native to Eastern Asia, including China, Japan, and Formosa. Both types are known as perching ducks due to their habit of climbing and nesting in trees. They are also smaller than most ducks, being approximately 1/2 the weight of mallards. Both breed freely and may lay about 25 to 30 eggs per year.

Either of these two ducks would be a good choice for a backyard pond if you choose to have ducks. They make an excellent choice for several reasons. They're smaller than normal sized ducks, and of course this reduces the cleanup necessary, and unlike other ducks or geese, these animals make very little noise. The sound from these ducks is a quite muted "wok" or "woof", even when within a few feet from you (of course everyone describes their sound differently). Certainly your neighbors will never hear them. The beauty of the males is unsurpassed by any other duck except during their eclipse, which is a brief period of time when the male duck loses his exceptional colors and could almost pass for a female. This period varies for up to two months when he again regains his beautiful plumage.

More information is available in books about raising ducks. The above mentioned ducks are recognized as the most beautiful of the small ducks, and are the best choice for fish ponds. One word of warning, ducks will eat small fish, ie fish smaller that about 4-5 inches.

More info soon. DM

PS Anyone would like to add this information page, pictures or text, can send their contributions. Ducks are relatively new to us and we welcome the input.
 
Duck Sources & info:
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George
Pioneer Park Aviary
Walla Walla, Washington,   99362
Ph (509) 527-4403 (be prepared to leave a message) Note: crews are normally there between the hours of 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM  Good Luck!

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