Ducklings can walk within hours of hatching, and their mother leads them to the closest watercourse to the nesting area. While they may encounter a swimming pool on their way to their new home, the pool itself isn’t the spot mom has chosen for her babies. Sometimes babies fall into the swimming pool and are unable to get out over the high edge. If you don’t see a mother duck with them, call a wildlife rehabilitator right away. If mom is still with her babies, they may just need help climbing out of the pool.
Give the ducklings a place to rest
Ducklings can tire very quickly and even drown. Make sure to give the babies some “islands” to rest on while you work on getting them out of the pool. These can be Styrofoam cooler lids, outdoor cushions, flutterboards—anything that floats and provides a surface.
How to Help
Raise the water level
Raise the water level by putting hoses into the pool. Once the water is level with the side of the pool, the ducklings should be able to hop out on their own.
Build a ramp
Make a ramp for the babies climb out on. This can be a flutterboard or outdoor cushion secured to the side of the pool. If you use a board or piece of wood, secure an empty pop bottle to the bottom of one end to make sure it floats. Back off and give the ducklings some time. It may take them a while to figure out how the ramp works.
Only as a last resort
Pool skimmers or nets should only be used as a last resort – ducklings will dive to avoid them, and as they get more stressed and tired they can drown. It’s better to give them the means to leave on their own time.
If the ducks don’t leave
If the ducklings are able to get in and out of the pool, but the whole family has stayed for more than 48 hours, they should be encouraged to move on. A chlorinated swimming pool does not provide the plants and microorganisms that ducklings need to eat to grow strong. Throw in some wind-up pool toys, a beach ball, or turn on your automatic pool cleaner. This should be enough to convince mom to get her brood on their way.