Things You'll Need
Catchers for bird feeders
Trees and shrubs
Swimming pool cover
Inflatable beach balls and rafts
Plastic or Mylar strips
Motion-sensing lights or sprinklers
Plastic models of dogs, foxes and raccoons
If there is another and more appropriate location for wild ducks not far from your home, such as a public lake, you may be able to herd the birds to it. To do that, you will need the help of several friends holding up large pieces of cardboard or bedsheets to keep the ducks contained in a waddling group. Don’t allow ducklings to get separated from their mothers.
Wild ducks and their nests are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so it is illegal for you to harm or kill the birds outside of scheduled hunting seasons. It is not illegal to frighten or herd wild ducks, however, unless they are nesting or are endangered species such as the Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis) and Hawaiian duck (Anas wyvilliana).
Although loud and abrupt sounds will frighten water birds, such noises can cause you more problems with your neighbors than you had with the ducks. Ultrasonic repellers inaudible to your neighbors won’t work, as few birds can hear sounds at that frequency either.
Although wild ducks such as mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) are attractive and sometimes entertaining birds, they may become a nuisance when they start to congregate in large numbers. This is most likely to happen if you live near a river or lake or have a garden pool or swimming pool on your property. If the waterfowl begin to dominate your water features or damage your garden, while polluting your property with their feces, you may need to take steps to discourage them.
Refrain from feeding wild ducks, either deliberately or unintentionally. They are attracted to seed that falls from bird feeders, so keep it cleaned up or install catchers beneath your feeders.
Break up the large expanses of short grass that ducks prefer by planting lots of trees and shrubs. If the water birds invade from a nearby lake or river, allow brush or tall grass to grow on its banks where it adjourns your property. When the ducks can't see where they are going, chances are they will find an easier place to climb out of the water.
Remove heating devices and aerators from your pond or garden pool, and allow the surface to freeze during the winter, eliminating the open water that attracts ducks during that season. Cover your swimming pool during the seasons it isn't in use, too. If you must leave it open during the summer months, float beach balls or rafts on its surface, as their movement may frighten ducks away.
Install flags, balloons and/or scarecrows on your property. Acquire balloons under 2 feet in diameter, with painted eyes in their centers. Attach them to stationery objects with fishing line, so that they float at a height of about 10 feet. You can make flags by tying 6-by-30-inch pieces of orange plastic or Mylar to the top of 4-foot stakes. Scarecrows should be as brightly dressed as possible, with large eyes and limbs that move when the wind blows.
Set up motion-sensing lights or sprinklers where wild ducks are most likely to congregate. Although they like water, they don't enjoy being abruptly showered with either it or light.
Display plastic, life-size models of animals that frighten ducks, such as dogs, foxes and raccoons. Those should be moved frequently or the birds will become accustomed to them. The presence of a live dog on your property should discourage ducks from visiting as well.
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Malllard Duck (Anas Platyrhynchos)
- DFW Wildlife Coalition: Ducks, Ducks, Ducks! ...
- RSPCA: How Can I Deter Ducks and Other Birds from My Swimming Pool?
- Penn State Extension: Geese, Ducks, and Swans
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: Waterfowl
- University of Nebraska: High Frequency Sound Devices Lack Efficacy in Repelling Birds
- Ducks Unlimited Canada: Mallards
A former master gardener with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Houghton College, Audrey Stallsmith has had three gardening-related mysteries published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House. Her articles or photos have also appeared in such publications as Birds & Blooms, Horticulture and Backwoods Home.