Wildfowl is the English word for the taxonomic family Anatidae, which includes true ducks, geese and swans. These birds are naturally found on every continent except Antarctica. Some species such as the Mallard are very widely distributed, others such as Laysan Duck have only ever occupied very small areas. True geese are naturally only found in the northern hemisphere.
There are numerous collections of wildfowl throughout Britain which are owned by individuals, municipal bodies and other organisations. Many species which are maintained in captivity in the British Isles are indigenous to warmer countries but can be quite hardy. Under suitable management the birds thrive, breed regularly and have a life expectancy greater than in the wild. A knowledge of the role played by wildfowl in their natural habitats is essential to understanding their needs in captivity.
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Please note that in the UK it is an offence to allow non-indigenous species to escape into the wild. In England, captive-bred wild birds must be close ringed or microchipped if they are sold or exchanged, unless listed under Appendix 2 of the General Licence GL18. The other nations of the UK have their own laws in this area.