This little cutie (not sure if it is a he or a she) will grow up to be a Wood Duck (otherwise known as a Maned Goose) and was discovered yesterday, running about my front yard in a panic, having lost its family. Such a tiny little thing but it was hysterical; by the time I reached it, it was on the neighbour's front porch repeatedly bashing its beak into the window in desperation where it thought its reflection was another duckling companion.
I scooped it up into my hands and held it quietly against my body to keep it warm. My children offered it some water through a syringe. We had no idea how long this duck had been stressed like this. It was bound to be getting pretty tired or exhausted and at risk of dehydration. Where was its family? A survey of the local duck haunts and there was no family or frantic mother ducks to be found.
Even if we found a duck family, how would we know if it were the right one for this duckling? What if this duckling had already been rejected by its mother? We couldn't leave this tiny soul alone or it would be surely eaten by predators.
It was still in relatively good condition. It still had a little bit of fight in it to resist my scooping it up but after a minute in my hands, it calmed down and I could get a good look at it. The feathers were in good condition, and apart from being sleepy, its eyes looked bright enough. It took an interest in its surroundings as we brought it inside to decide what to do.
We couldn't keep it as a pet. Ducks are social creatures and need other ducks. If we tried to keep this duckling, it would become attached to us instead and want to follow us everywhere, including indoors. Have you seen the mess that ducks make? No thanks! Plus we don't have a pond or the right facilities to keep ducks. We enjoy our wild visitors as you can see from other blog posts.
Thankfully, there is an active group of Fauna Rescue volunteers, some of whom specialise in caring for ducks. We were lucky that a duck carer lived within a short distance and we were able to take our duckling to her. The plan is that our duckling will join a 'crèche' of similarly aged rescue ducklings where it will be able to make friends and bond with a new family of its own until old enough to be independent (in about 8 weeks' time).
We have so many ducks in our neighbourhood and they regularly visit our garden. I am seriously considering whether I should sign up to become a duckling rescuer myself because I am home a lot of the time, love animals (and animals seem to find us) and I don't have a regular pet right now. Ducklings are a short term commitment (only 8 weeks maximum) and it feels good to know that we have helped to save an animal that otherwise would have succumbed to the elements or predators.
(On Friday night I saw a fox running across one of the main roads and foxes have been spotted in my neighbourhood before, not to mention feral cats, dogs etc.).
Anyway, I just wanted to share the latest duck(ling) story and although I am sad to give up such a cute ball of fluff and feathers, I am satisfied that there is a happy future for him or her.
If you find a wild animal or bird that is sick, injured, lost or otherwise at risk, don't leave them to suffer, please contact your local vet or Fauna Rescue service.
If you would like to support your local Fauna Rescue service, you can donate money for feed, medicines and equipment, or cages (aviaries seem to be always in need) and bedding materials. Contact your local Fauna Rescue service first to find out what they need. As it is a volunteer organisation, it relies on donations to do its good work.
Fauna Rescue of South Australia Inc.: http://www.faunarescue.org.au/
Raising baby ducks: http://www.faunarescue.org.au/bird-water-birds.htm
Wood Ducks: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Chenonetta-jubata
Lupey Loops posts about ducks: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/search/label/ducks