Thursday, June 23, 2005

An Unexpected Guest

A few weeks ago, I was returning from some shopping when I noticed a rather curious brown and yellow lump in the road. I pulled in, parked my car, and walked toward it to take a closer look. As I approached, I could clearly see that it was a baby duck. It didn't seem to be moving and I thought it might have been hit by a passing car. In that instant, I felt sad and a bit angry that another person could be so careless. However, as I knelt down to take a closer look, I saw that the baby was breathing. It was lying on its back with its little feet pointed skyward. I reached down with my hand and stroked it gently along its side. At my touch, the baby opened its eyes and started flailing its legs in the air. I guess that it was startled and scared. I looked around, but there was no sign of its mother anywhere. It was definitely abandoned. I felt really sorry for the baby duck and I really wanted to help it if I could. I thought for a moment and then decided to try and set the duckling on its feet. I carefully turned it over while it squirmed and made excited baby duck sounds. Once on its feet, it attempted to walk, but it immediately fell over and ended up on its back once again. This was definitely not a good sign! I tried again to put it on its feet, but again it fell over. It seemed to me that the duckling was not injured so I wasn't sure what was wrong. It was pretty warm outside and rather hot on the asphalt, so I decided to take the baby and get it out of the sun. I picked it up and found a small box to put it in. Then I set it in the shade.

I went straight to my computer and did a search on the care of ducklings. I found a short article and read it. It said to keep the baby duck warm and give it water to drink. Also, it said that the baby duck could be fed something called "duck starter". Well, I had no idea what duck starter was. I assumed that it was something that duck farmers could buy. I thought that the first priority should be to try and get the baby duck to drink some water. It also occurred to me that the baby might have gotten overheated laying in the road. I decided that I would try putting the duckling in a shallow pan of warm water. This would cool it a bit if it was too hot and allow it to drink. When I placed the squirming duckling in the water, to my consternation, it failed to float in a properly upright position and rolled over. I reached in and gently righted the ducking, making sure to keep its head above water. I didn't know if it drank any water, although it certainly had the opportunity when it was upside down! So, I sprinkled a little water on its head and bill. It seemed to swallow a bit which I was glad to see. I took the soaking wet duckling out of the water and held it in my hands. It was shivering. Well, obviously now the duck was too cold. I put it back in the small box and went looking for a larger box. I found one and then cut a few bunches of tall grass that had gone to seed and used these to line the bottom of the box. I placed the duckling on the grass and it proceeded to fall over on its back once again. I put the large box in the sun to try and warm the duckling back up again. It lay quietly on the grass with its eyes closed.

I left the duckling in the sun for about 15 minutes and then I went back to check it. I lifted it in my hands and it was still soaking wet and shivering. I became worried that my little duckling bath was probably not a good idea and I decided that I needed to do something quickly to warm it up and dry its downy feathers. I put it back in the box and took it inside. I got out my hair dryer, set it on low, and blew warm air towards the duckling from about three feet away. The duckling seemed to like the warm air and it relaxed and closed its eyes. After about ten minutes, the duckling was mostly dry and fluffy. I placed a small bowl of water in the box and put the box under a table lamp so the duck would get some radiant heat from the bulb. I wanted to try to get the duckling to drink some more, as I suspected that dehydration could be the cause of its inability to stand up properly. I put the bowl in front of it, but it didn't try to drink. So, I scooped the duckling into my hand and placed its bill in the water bowl. I was very happy to see that it took a sip, lifted its head, and swallowed. I put the duck back down on the grass and left it to continue warming under the lamp. Over the next several hours, I helped it drink a little water about every half hour and it gradually seemed to be doing better. It was starting to waddle around the box. and it kicked lots of grass into its water bowl. At least it was energetic! Finally, it started to burrow under the grass and sort of hide in the corner of the box. This was kind of cute. I would talk to it some and it would answer with little peeps from under the grass. :)

By evening, I was thinking that I needed to get the duckling something to eat. So, I went to a huge pet warehouse store called PetsMart. I figured that if any store would have some duck food, they would. I got there and walked all around the store. There was a section for feeding various birds, but nothing was labeled as duck food. So, I walked around some more. At this point, I was looking for an employee. I walked past the small animal section, past the dog and cat section, and found to my great surprise that there was a very extensive horse department. Now this store is located in a very suburban section of Indianapolis, not way out in the middle of farm country. So, this was really quite astonishing! The department even had its own dedicated employee, who happened to be on duty. So, I walked up to her and asked her if the store had any food that a baby duck could eat. She said, not surprisingly, that she really didn't know, but she kindly invited me to follow her as she went looking for a particular person who would know. She found him, I told him the situation, and he said that the store didn't carry anything that a baby duck could eat. He told me that if I did start feeding it that it would become quite tame, but that it would be dependant on people for the rest of its life. I said that I didn't particularly want a pet duck. What I really wanted was to help the duckling to survive. He suggested that I take the duckling to a wildlife rehabilitation specialist. I said that I would be willing to do that and asked if he could give me the phone number of one. We went back to his office and he spent a few minutes sifting through a large number of papers and cards. This guy wasn't exactly well organized! Finally, he wrote down the number of an animal shelter and said that they could put me in touch with a rehabilitator.

When I got home, I decided to try and give the duckling a bit of food. I chopped up an assortment of mixed fruit and vegetables: carrots, lettuce, apple, and spinach. I offered it to the baby, but it didn't seem interested. So, I just left the small plate in the box. Over the next few hours, I helped the duckling drink a few more times. I don't know if it ate anything, but there was plenty of grass kicked up onto the food. The duckling was still burying itself under the grass. I would walk up, look in the box, and say, "Baby duck? Where are you?", and the baby would answer with cute little peeps. :) Well, finally, I was tired and I went to sleep. I left the lamp on to keep the duckling warm over night.

In the morning, I went to check on the duckling. I called to it and it peeped back from under the grass. I got it out and held it in my hands. It seemed well and did not fall over as I held it. I petted it and put it back in the box. I looked at the food plate and I didn't think any of it had been eaten. Walked in yes, but not eaten! I called the number the pet store man had given me, but I discovered that it had been disconnected! This was quite irritating! I got out the phone book and found the number for the City Animal Control Department. I called them and explained the situation. The woman I talked to said that they could send an animal control officer out the next day to pick up the duckling. I was rather surprised to hear that a city employee would arrive in a city vehicle at my door to pick up one tiny duckling! However, I told her that I was worried that the duckling might not make it if I waited. I thought it really needed to eat something. I asked if I could bring the duckling to them. She said that I could, but then hesitated and asked me where I lived. I told her and she said that there was an animal shelter for birds and exotic animals that was actually closer to me. She went on to say that was the place where they would take the duckling anyway. So, I asked for the number of the shelter and I called them. The woman who answer the phone said that they had already received quite a few ducklings and that I could bring the duckling on over. She also mentioned that a wildlife rehabilitator was scheduled to come by that afternoon and that she would take the duckling and care for it. Well, I was quite pleased! I ate a quick breakfast and then I took a few pictures of my little feathered friend (please see below :) ). Then I drove to the animal shelter. I handed the duckling over in the grass filled box to the woman I had spoken with on the phone. She picked it up and looked at it while it wiggled and peeped in her hand. She thought it looked pretty healthy and strong. I was glad to hear her say that! I asked her if I could call and check up on how the duckling was doing. She said that the rehabilitator had already been given about 200 baby ducks and that it would be pretty hard to tell one from another. After a brief moment of incredulity at the number of abandoned ducklings that had already been brought to the shelter, I said that I could certainly understand! She then joked that maybe we could paint a colored dot on the duckling. I smiled and said not to worry about it. I thanked her and left feeling good and that I had done my best to give the duckling a chance to survive.


Anonymous Manuela said...

Very cute little duck :) Also, I left a comment on your previous post, too :) Take care.

6/26/2005 2:33 AM  
Blogger Tsul Trim said...

\ /
_ (.) (.) _
/ | | \
/ | | \
\/\| |/\/
__||__ :)
/ \

6/26/2005 1:44 PM  
Blogger Tsul Trim said...

ups!my painting was better organized ,before clicking on "login and publish".it supposed to be a portrait of ur new friend,smiling when he is talking with other ducks about u

6/26/2005 1:53 PM  
Blogger Pantea said...

You kept me interested till the last word! that baby duck is adorable!

6/27/2005 12:22 AM  
Blogger David said...

Thanks Manuela. :)

Dear Tsul Trim,
Thank you very much for making a portrait of the baby duck! I can see the smile on its face. :)

Pantea, I am really glad that the post was interesting for you. :) You are right, that duckling was really a cutie!

6/27/2005 1:43 AM  
Blogger Jamak said...

The baby Duck is adorable. It was a quite a novel to conquer as I had to return 3-4 times to finish the whole thing.
Thanks for sharing the story with us.

6/28/2005 5:52 AM  
Blogger David said...

Jamak, thanks for your persistence in reading the whole story! You are certainly welcome and I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. :)

6/28/2005 12:59 PM  
Blogger Black Berry said...

sup dave,thanks for visiting ma blog.

I can't see the duckling..:(

6/29/2005 11:24 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hello Phoenix,
I am sorry that you could not see the pictures of the baby duck. Maybe there was a technical glitch with blogger. That seems to happen quite often!! Please try to visit my blog again later. If you still can't see the pictures then I would be glad to send you one of them in an e-mail if you will send me your address. Thanks for visiting! :)

6/29/2005 12:38 PM  
Blogger H.N.K said...

it's nice David, thanks for sharing us this picture :)

6/30/2005 5:34 AM  
Blogger maas said...

hi david,thank you for these nice photos for this cute animal ,and thank you for visition my blog

6/30/2005 11:09 AM  
Blogger David said...

Dear Hnk,
It is my pleasure to share these pictures with my friends. I am glad that you liked them. :)

Hi Maas,
You are welcome twice! I am happy that you also enjoyed the pictures. :)

6/30/2005 7:14 PM  
Blogger Black Berry said...

7/01/2005 11:41 AM  
Blogger Ameer H. said...

we can make a difference, check out my new post.

7/03/2005 12:28 AM  
Blogger Ameer H. said...

This duck is so cute, I wonder why their mom leaves them in the heat? anyway, it had been very lucky that you found him, some people might not care as much. :)

7/03/2005 8:32 PM  
Blogger David said...

Ameer, thanks for the comment. :) I was wondering the same thing. I have watched mother ducks with their babies many times. The mother leads and the babies follow. Perhaps if one baby is unable to keep up for some reason then the mother will leave it behind. Nature is not always kind.

7/04/2005 2:33 PM  
Anonymous koozeh said...

i am really sorry that i didn't see this story earlier!!! you are a great story tellet david... i hope that now and at this moment the little baby duck is peeping with the friends... i sometimes play the same game with pishi.. pretend that i don't see him, and say pishi pishi where are you? and then the little meow that warms up my heart answers me...

7/04/2005 10:38 PM  
Blogger David said...

Koozeh, thanks so much for your compliment! I am really happy that you enjoyed the story. :) I hope the baby duck is doing well, too. By now, it could be nearly full grown! I'm also really glad that you are enjoying your kitten. :))

7/05/2005 2:00 AM  
Blogger Dalia Mohammed said...

Hi David,

very cute duck...
The pictures are so nice...

7/05/2005 3:20 AM  
Anonymous mycottonbed said...

Such gestures! Bless you for that! The ducky is sooo cute!

7/08/2005 9:45 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hello Mycottonbed,
Thanks for visiting and for your comment. :)

7/09/2005 12:03 PM  
Blogger A Friend said...

ooooo, what a cute little duck...

7/10/2005 6:13 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hello Friend,
Glad you enjoyed the pictures. :) Thanks for visiting.

7/12/2005 9:55 PM  
Blogger Khodadad said...

Actually, when I was a kid, I found a little goose in similar circumstances (in the middle of the road) and I brought it home and begged my mom to let me keep him/her. It was a fun two months, but the damn thing was so loud and so obnoxious that I had to exile him to our holiday house outside the city! I still loved him though. David, you can make a good Duck soup out of this! (evil grin)

7/16/2005 6:43 AM  
Blogger David said...

Greetings Khodadad, my evil friend! :) I think a soup bowl would have been about the right size for a WADING POOL for my little friend! Actually, I have eaten duck a few times. It definitely did not taste like chicken! :) I am a bit jealous of your experience raising the baby goose (not the noisy and obnoxious part, though, or all that goose poop!). Part of me really wanted to keep the duckling, but I knew it would be better off being returned to the wild by a rehabilitator. When I was a kid, I mostly found snakes and my mother would not let me in the house with them! :)

7/17/2005 1:12 AM  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said... sound suspiciously like me! I had a baby Canada goose (that I'd found in a parking lot) travel home with me in my purse, swim in my bathtub, then managed to reunite it with it's 'family'. He kept trying to eat my eyelashes... =)

10/17/2005 9:53 AM  

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