Easter is the season of renewal and rebirth. Sweet chicks and ducklings are popular spring and Easter gifts, with their soft downy plumage, peeping voices and adorable faces. However, baby chicks and ducklings are anything but ducky for Easter. They should never be given as gifts to anyone who might not be prepared for the commitment and care that these birds require.
Why We Love Chicks and Ducklings
These cute, helpless baby birds are incredibly endearing and frequently featured in Easter- and spring-themed gifts, including cards, books, candy, chocolate, plush toys and seasonal decorations. Young hatchlings aren’t only available at farms and agricultural supply stores, but also at farmers markets, garden centers and other easily accessible outlets. Young birds can even be ordered online. They are so common, which gives the impression that chicks and ducklings would make fun and easy pets. Unfortunately, that impression is far from the truth. These birds have very special needs that must be met if they are to live happy, healthy lives.
Baby Birds Are Not Good Gifts For Just Anyone
Despite their innocent appearance and easy availability, ducklings and chicks are not suitable gifts for just anyone. Potential problems with these baby birds as new pets may include the following:
- Inappropriate Zoning: Different communities have different zoning laws for domestic poultry, including ducks and chickens. If a specific residence is not zoned for these agricultural birds, pet owners could be fined or face other penalties. Even worse, the animals could be forcibly removed.
- Specialized Food: For proper nutrition and growth, ducklings and chicks require specialized feed specific to them. Their food isn’t typically available at standard big-box retailers, pet store chains or grocery stores. Poultry feed can be purchased at farm supply stores, agricultural retailers or ordered online.
- Unique Care Needs: These birds are not the same as canaries, budgerigars or other popular pet birds as they require unique care. They require more space, both indoors and outdoors, including a secure coop to protect them from the elements and predators. Ducks also need a sufficient water source to swim. It’s also important to note that ducklings and baby chicks are very social creatures. Preparing to keep them as pets means having multiples of each breed in order to keep their emotional health balanced.
- Diseases: Both ducks and chickens can carry different parasites and diseases which could infect humans. Salmonella is especially common and can easily be transmitted to humans, creating symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. While hospital care for salmonella is not common, it may be necessary for vulnerable individuals such as children and elderly persons.
- Gentle Handling: Baby birds are very fragile. Their delicate bones can easily break if handled carelessly. As young children have trouble controlling how gently they handle a pet, baby birds are not a good choice for them.
- Lifespan: While ducklings and chicks can be very cute and charming when they are young, they will outgrow that fluffy appearance within a few weeks. Pet owners need to be prepared to care for these birds for their full lifespan. That can range from 5-8 years for chickens and 5-10 years for ducks.
Unfortunately, many new owners eventually decide that baby birds don’t make good pets after all. This is when they will attempt to surrender their birds to local animal shelters. However, those shelters aren’t typically equipped to handle these birds and placing them in appropriate homes can be challenging. Ultimately, the birds may be euthanized. To avoid this, some pet owners may simply release the growing birds into local parks or fields. Though it may seem like the right choice, these birds are not wild animals. Therefore, they are not equipped to survive without care and supervision. Because of this, the birds often succumb to predators or by being hit by cars. They may also starve as a result of not being able to find efficient food.
Instead of Baby Birds
While there is a temptation to give chicks and ducklings as Easter gifts or inappropriate pets, there are many other options to celebrate the season. Consider giving young children seeds to grow their own spring flowers or a small bird feeder to attract native baby birds. They will enjoy the interaction with nature and learning about wild species. Another idea is a trip to a local petting zoo or farm. This can introduce children to chicks and ducklings without ongoing pet commitment. Fun gifts such as plush toys or Easter- and spring-themed books can also be great choices.
Ducklings and chicks are endearing, but that doesn’t mean that they are the best pet choice for an Easter gift. Gaining a better understanding of the potential problems that come with these young birds can help you choose the best options to celebrate the season. You can come up with the perfect gift idea while still having the birds’ best interests in mind.