Our independent hatchery partners operate under a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Special Purpose Permit and follow regulations guiding the management of hand-reared wild waterfowl for release.

Rancho Esquon Inc. is a 9,000-acre rice and almond farm located in Butte County, with more than 900 acres dedicated to wetland habitat, where the owners have planted more than 20,000 willow, cottonwood and oak trees. It is home to 165 species of birds.

Rancho Esquon’s Hatchery Program salvages mallard, wood duck, teal and occasionally northern shoveler eggs from farm land before the farmers’ tractors prepare the soil for planting and plowing, both on the ranch and in surrounding communities.

The salvage operation includes collecting, cleaning and disinfecting eggs; determining the embryos’ stage of development by candling them; incubating eggs; and rearing ducklings in brooder pens until they are ready for release - approximately five weeks.

Rancho Esquon’s Egg Hatchery is federally permitted with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as an Egg Salvage Facility. All egg salvage birds are banded under the California Waterfowl Master Banding Permit.

For information, call 1-866-DUC-EGGS. Click here for a Facebook video tour of the hatchery.

The North Delta Conservancy works to conserve, sustain and enhance the cultural, agricultural, recreational, wildlife and natural habitat resources of the northern Sacramento River Delta region, and to develop and promote sustainable protection, management and stewardship programs through research and education.

The Conservancy’s Duck Egg Rescue Program began in 1996 at its Mello Farms property in Isleton. Farmers rescue duck eggs from fields when prepping or harvesting and bring them to the Conservancy. There, they are incubated and hatched, and the ducklings are raised with as little human contact as possible, then banded and released back into the wild after about five or six weeks.

The NDC Duck Rescue Facility is a federally permitted waterfowl rehabilitation facility with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The conservancy currently bands and releases an average of 500 ducklings annually under the California Waterfowl Master Banding Permit. Besides mallards, some teal and gadwall are hatched and released.

For information, call 916-448-6338, or click here.


If you’ve found an abandoned nest or orphaned duckling, you can take immediate steps to help, though you must turn the bird over to a permitted hatchery – federal law prohibits adopting wild migratory birds.

Orphaned ducklings

· Place ducklings in a softly-lined covered box with ventilation.

· Place the box in a warm, dark quiet indoor location away from all humans and pets.

· Do not attempt to give them food or water, no matter how much they beg — it’s very easy to endanger them with the wrong food or a water bowl.

· Do not put them in water. They’re not fully waterproof yet — they can get hypothermia and die.

Abandoned or endangered eggs

· Place eggs with nest material in paper bag or carton-like container.

· On hot days, keep eggs in air-conditioned cab or in shade. Temps over 99°F can be harmful to the embryo inside.

· Do not shake. The less movement the better.