Thursday, June 12, 2014 • 1:55 PM Comments ()

Duckling

posted by Caleb Rounds

I went to high school in Athens Greece because my parents lived there and they were unable to lose me during the move. We lived on a quiet street near some open fields and scrub (Greece is full of scrub), but mostly the area was suburban. Domestic animals are not cherished in Greece the same way they are here: there are many abandoned and stray animals. My sister often returned home with orphans. Cats and dogs were typical and we had several of each during our time there. Most famously, my sister once returned home with a donkey.

As you might imagine, this donkey was not a rescue animal and was shortly followed by a very irritated elderly lady. We were not allowed to keep her either.

My reader may recall that I acquired a stray chicken last year, but that event notwithstanding, I do not enjoy collecting stray animals; we have plenty of household organisms thank you very much.

Nevertheless my family has recently become the foster parents of a wood duck (for the curious among you a mallard has a horizontal stripe on each side of its head that extends to both sides of the eyes whereas a wood duck’s stripe only goes back from the eye).

This is not good for us or the wood duck. My children of course really want to keep the duck because it’s cute. It is undeniably cute, but this is a wild bird and not a domestic animal. Were we to raise the bird it would not lay eggs for us every day. Nor would it allow the boarders to pick him/her up and snuggle. Most likely it would fly away, and, as it has not been raised in the wild, would quickly become peregrine/coyote food. I suppose that would be good for the peregrine or coyote.

My in-laws found said duck in their yard and decided to rescue it. I did not give the matter much thought when asked, but what they should have done was wait and watch (without pets) from a safe distance. The bird was healthy and peeping. Its mother might have returned, but once the duck was captured this possibility was out.

So I have a few day old duck (no real feathers yet). I’m keeping it warm, haven’t given it enough water to get wet in and, upon the advice of a wildlife rehabilitator, have given it very small crickets and meal worms. It likes these.

But my real responsibility now is to get the duck to a rehabilitator. These are few and far between as they need to be licensed by the state. I’ve contacted two and we are reaching out to a third, but it looks like the closest surrogate duck momma is two hours away in Connecticut. Raising the duck is sounding better and better. Unfortunately, I’m not supposed to keep wild animals. I’m not sure if there’s a penalty for transporting them across state lines, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

I think the bottom line may be that if it walks like a duckling and peeps like a duckling, leave it alone unless you know what you’re doing. I’ve helped many a turtle across the road, but I think messing with nature this time was probably a mistake.

With luck, I’ll find a rescuer who still has space and this little guy will make it back into the wild to make more wood ducks and/or become peregrine food.

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