• AHS YouTube
  • AHS Instagram
  • AHS Twitter
  • AHS Facebook

Injured or orphaned ducks and geese

Adults ducks and geese

If the duck or goose has a leg that is bent or otherwise misshapen, but the bird can still use the leg and is able to get away from you, the injury is probably old for treatment. Waterfowl generally are able to adapt fairly well to life with a crippled leg if they are still able to swim and fly.

If the duck or goose has an obvious injury, is bleeding, feels cold or looks sick, has fishing line wrapped around it or the animal is attempting to move away but is falling over, this animal needs immediate help. Please review our Emergency Care information.

Baby ducks and goslings

If the animal has an obvious injury, is bleeding, feels cold or looks sick, or the animal is attempting to move away but is falling over, this animal needs immediate help. Please review our Emergency Care information.

If the animal is not injured, please read this information to further determine whether your wild animal needs assistance.

If you find a duckling or gosling wandering around without an adult in sight, it will need your help to survive. Pick the baby up and place it gently in a box lined with paper toweling or some soft, non-loopy, clean cloth.  Birds will not abandon their babies if they are touched by a human, so don’t worry about picking the baby up. Walk around the area where you found the baby and see if you can spot the parent bird and the rest of the siblings.

If you DO see the rest of the family, get as close as you are able and put the baby down and back away.  The mother should now be able to hear her baby’s peeps of alarm and come back to retrieve it.

If the adult does not return for the baby, or no family groups are around, bring the baby to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley. There it will be examined, treated if necessary, and assigned to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for care and eventual release.

If a duck or goose has decided to build a nest in your yard, please leave the nest alone. It is a violation of Federal law to harass any nesting waterfowl, as well as the fact that you are going to miss witnessing a fascinating process. The mother will abandon a nest that is moved, they will only be an inconvenience for a short period of time, approximately three weeks. After the eggs hatch, the mother will take the babies to water. Once the family is in the water, they will not return to the nest again and the nest can be removed.

If the nest is in a dangerous spot, try to watch for the eggs to hatch. Once they have hatched and the babies are dry and fluffy, they can be gathered in a box. The mother will fly off when you approach the nest, but the peeping of the babies will keep her circling close by. Walk the box of babies to a safe spot and gently tip the box to let the babies out. As long as the mother can hear the peeping, she will follow you and “rescue” her babies once you have let them out of the box and backed away.

If you see a mother crossing a dangerous street with a brood, put the babies in a box and walk across the busy street in the same direction the mother was headed. Once you and the mother are safely across the street, you can tip the box and let the babies out.

Never place ducklings or goslings in water, assuming they will be able to swim. They most likely will drown because until their young feathers are preened and conditioned for water, they are not able to swim or they may become hypothermic without their mother’s aide. 

It is illegal to raise a wild animal, even if you are planning on releasing it.
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife facility, or a wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Get the animal professional help as soon as possible.

The Animal Humane Society, Golden Valley location, provides care for all wild animals except skunks. We will provide phone advice for skunk situations. Please bring your wild animal directly to the Golden Valley location. If you need further advice or assistance you may call the Wildlife Exam at (763) 489-2223.

Animal Humane Society locations


4375 Hwy. 55 S.E.
Buffalo, MN 55313
(763) 390-3647

Operating hours

Coon Rapids

1411 Main St. N.W.
Coon Rapids, MN 55448
(763) 862-4030

Operating hours

Golden Valley

845 Meadow Ln. N.
Golden Valley, MN 55422
(763) 522-4325

Operating hours

St. Paul

1115 Beulah Ln.
St. Paul, MN 55108
(651) 645-7387

Operating hours


9785 Hudson Rd.
Woodbury, MN 55125
(651) 730-6008

Operating hours

  • Administration
    (763) 522-4325
  • Animal Admissions
    (763) 412-4969
  • Pet Behavior Helpline
    (763) 489-2202
  • Boarding
    (763) 489-2222
  • More contact info »