Wildfowl are frequently referred to as ornamental ducks, geese and swans. In the wild, these birds populate the world, apart from Antarctica. Some individual species such as the Mallard are very widely distributed, others such as Laysan Duck occupy very small areas. There are no true geese in the southern hemisphere.
There are numerous collections of wildfowl throughout the UK 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 are 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 species in their natural wetland 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. 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.