Geese and Ducks That Are Brought Into Parks--Wild or Captive?

Would anyone happen to know if park geese and ducks (when not otherwise found in the area) are considered wild by iNaturalist’s standards? I don’t know how wild they are, or if they can breed, if they can fly away and spread to other places. Are they considered wild if they were brought into a park and live their whole lives there, even though they’re not exactly captive?


Nearly all of them can fly. They can breed. They may have flown in from somewhere else. They may have been produced here and thus be wild even if the parents were not. And of course they may be tame geese placed here.

For a while I fretted over these birds, but now I just mark them wild because I don’t know if these individuals are wild or not and they might be. It’s hard to care very much.


If a reintroduced animal or mallards that people feed at the park can count as wild so can a dumped muscovy duck in an urban park
It’s living without human intervention and all yknow


iNaturalist’s standards are based on whether the organism is choosing to be there, regardless of how it got there. A lion in a zoo is captive, but if it escapes into the streets it is wild. If these birds aren’t in an enclosure and aren’t being used as livestock, and presumably can fly away, I think that they are considered wild.

As an aside, a local flock of Canada geese near my home has a goose like this among its members. It’s pretty funny seeing them together, since it looks so chunky and less graceful than the others. It likely originated from a farm and decided to “run away with the circus”, so to speak!


Check their wings! If not clipped and there’s nothing preventing them to flyaway they’re wild, also if there’s no generalized food source as park workers it’s even clearer they are wild (we don’t take in mind public feeding them).


Wild is almost always the correct classification for these birds.

1 Like

I think commonsense should apply - wild - should relate to truly wild birds, whether introduced and naturalised, or otherwise, but birds that are clearly collection birds, even free flying are not wild. There are free flying Pelicans in St James park, they are not truly wild and accepting them as such throughs are real data collection a bit skew - it is like the folks that put on free flying butterflies from hot houses on here - it provides no scientific value if we started adding them as wild as they are free flying. This is why ebird has regional reviewers to avoid the true ‘wild’ data being corrupted by collection birds beig added into a dataset for a area or region.

1 Like

It’s not eBird, all cases you listed are wild for iNat, there’s no intetion to say wild = wild population, but wild = specimen is participating in local ecosystem the way wild animal would do it, including moving without boundaries.


the exotic? butterfly in a hothouse - yes, absolutely captive.

But the birds not confined to an enclosure they can’t escape = wild for iNat.

1 Like

I think it’s best to put it like this:

-Domestic Greylag Geese (or other domestic waterfowl like Swan Geese or Muscovy Ducks) in a public park, possibly released or possibly wild-hatched = wild

-City-managed collection of exotic waterfowl (zoo, public waterfowl collection, or similar) = captive


Thank you everyone who contributed for providing a reasonable and logical consensus. I will consider these birds wild. I intend to use iNaturalist as responsibly as I can, so I appreciate all the input.


I know this conversation comes up regularly, but I think this is something that should be better clarified by iNat, even though there will always be grey areas. To me, it does not make any sense to consider an animal wild if it is not not confined to an enclosure. A lot of chickens, dogs, cats are not confined to any space, but they are totally dependent on humans that intentionally feed them. To me, wild animals are reproducting on there own and are not intentionally fed by humans. If you think about how the data will likely be used, lumping animals like park ducks or free-ranging chickens with naturally reproducing animals really limit our ability to study introduced or invasive species. How do you study feral cat populations if any cat seen outside someone’s garden is considered wild? How do you study the range of a species with iNat data if there are individual of that species considered wild all over the world that simply escaped, chose to be outside their normal exclosures or simply were brought to a pond as a form of decoration? A plant deliberately planted somewhere is free to reproduce or to spread vegetatively, but until it does in a significant way, it will be considered captive/cultivated. The same logic should be applied to animals. Determining whether a given individual seen in the wild is indeed a wild animal or not is a tricky problem, but that is another question. I think we have way too many “wild” animals out there (and “wild” plants is much worse!). Personally, when in doubt, I’d mostly choose captive.

1 Like

They can definitely breed. See this observation of mine:

Four geese appeared in this park 10 years before that photo was taken. They bred, then continued to breed.

1 Like

Free-ranging chickens or cattle are not wild, they’re still regulated by humans, they’re wild only after escape.

Domestic geese and ducks have feral breeding populations in many areas.

1 Like

I agree that in some cases, these ducks/geese can start forming small populations in which case I would call them wild. However, I would not call an animal that escapes from enclosures wild unless it starts reproducing or forming a population.

Counting any free-living goose or duck allows us to track new populations, and it’s often difficult to know when a population is present and when one isn’t. They clearly aren’t captive though, regardless of if they are established or not.


the point being missed is knowledge - there are clearly free flying feral or naturalised populations that should be recorded, but birds kept in London Parks some of which are not free flying, others are, that are there because their food source is there, like your farm cat - are not wild

I also have to consider that iNaturalist is not the source of monitoring feral populations - it does not have the knowledge to do so, only local ornithological groups feeding into state or national bodies can monitor expanding feral populations of birds.

I am seeing people on here put on photos of chickens in cages, butterflies from butterfly houses, animals from zoos, and birds from collections.

1 Like

iNat isn’t a monitoring website, but it is one used for observing and are observing tons of feral populations as well as captive ones. And we do that with many different organisms who are expanding, and dedicated users even can monitor it/part of it together, what that gatekeeping is for from your side, how do you know what knowledge users have?
Any Mallard that stay overwinter cause clearly their populations started doing that because “their food source is there” is considered captive by your definition, no feral cat should be observed either, why should we really change the system we’re observing with because you don’t like birds in parks?

some users will have good knowledge, this is clearly a mix between keen and knowledgeable naturalist and those with less so. But this is basically a photo ID website, and if you like photographing birds in parks that are pinioned or tame that will never wander far, and are genuinely non native that I suppose if that is your thing is fine.

It is the fact that we humans move wildlife around that in many cases those species become naturalised and not always with a great results, so no I am not keen on people letting wildfowl or other non-native species out into the wild when they have no natural origin from that region of the planet.