The Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy located in Litchfield Connecticut was founded by S. Dillon Ripley, considered to be one of the twentieth century’s outstanding figures in ornithology and conservation. Ripley began building an internationally known collection of waterfowl in Litchfield, Connecticut in the 1920’s. He started his first duck pond at age seventeen and taught ornithology at Yale while director of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. In 1964 Dillon became the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution where he led the creation of numerous new museums, such as the National Air & Space Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum, and the development of the Smithsonian Magazine.
An avid aviculturist, Dillon Ripley is credited with being the first person to propagate successfully many threatened and endangered species in captivity, such as the red-breasted goose, nene goose, emperor goose and Laysan teal. Dr. Ripley also raised various endangered species in Litchfield for re-introduction to the wild.
Today, known as the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, this is one of the pre-eminent facilities for breeding rare and endangered waterfowl. The public is invited on self-guided tours on Saturday and Sunday beginning April 1 and running through November 30 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visitors to the Conservancy are invited to visit the aviaries at their leisure and enjoy the diversity of waterfowl on display. Information panels provide interesting insight about each species and Conservancy staff and volunteers are available to answer questions.
Visitors can also visit the duckery where ducklings and goslings are hatched and reared. Even during the fall and winter months there are often eggs incubating or chicks hatching as the southern hemisphere species often reproduce during Connecticut’s northern hemisphere winter.
October through May are the best months to observe male ducks in their breeding plumage. Male ducks of many species (but not all) molt their colorful breeding plumage towards the end of June and most resemble their respective females until late September when they molt into breeding plumage once again. Male swans and geese remain colorful throughout the year.
Admission is $10.00 per adult, which includes one child under the age of twelve. Additional children are $5.00 each. Please note that no pets are allowed on Conservancy grounds.