Wild ducks have become fond of wheat and alfalfa fields as the crop is an enticing place to build nests. The fields provide cover for hens to hide their eggs from predators while the river and nearby water resources are bountiful food sources. But, it is not always easy to spot a nest because of the thick vegetative cover that they are hidden in. That is when the River Garden Farms harvest member stops the harvester and retrieves the eggs.
The hens don’t count on those fields being harvested before the eggs hatch. River Garden Farms looks to protect these nests by scanning the fields before the crop is harvested. But, it is not easy to always spot a nest due to the wheat’s thick cover. The hens will stay with their eggs until the harvester is almost on top of them, when the hens burst out of cover to escape danger. That is when River Garden Farms’ harvest member stop the harvester and retrieve the eggs.
River Garden Farms has incubators on site to hold the fertile eggs until members of the California Waterfowl Association can transport them to the hatchery at their headquarters near Chico. It is there that the eggs are hatched and the young ducklings are raised until they are old enough for release back into the wild, typically back into the same fields from which their eggs were rescued weeks before.
In any given year, River Garden Farms is able to save between 50-80 duck eggs, and about 90% of the saved eggs hatch and are released as young adults. If left in the wild, the hatch survival rate would be closer to 15%.
On any given year, River Garden Farms is able to save between 50 – 80 ducks. To date, 90% of the eggs collected wind up being released as young adults, which if left in the wild, the success rate would be closer to 1 in 7 eggs making it to five weeks old.
See our video below showing how this program is conducted and the heartwarming results we’ve enjoyed since the program’s inception.