This is a sad post with unsettling photos. You may want to pass it by. It’s especially tragic because I had a part in making the outcome worse than it should have been. For the past five days, I’ve attempted to capture Blonde Bombshell #2, a domestic duck with Saxony ancestry. On July 1, I discovered her right leg had monofilament fishing line knotted around it. Each night, I’ve gone to the pond after the crowds have left for the day hoping I could lure her close enough with duck chow to nab her. She remained just out of reach.
On Sunday evening, I noticed her foot was beginning to show signs the knotted line had tightened so last night, before venturing to the pond, I contacted Michigan Duck Rescue and Sanctuary to see if Matt and Theresa Lyson, founders, would be able to meet me late in the evening after the ducks had settled down for the night. Prior to that, Bombshell is in the water taking her two ducklings to natural food sources on the pond.
Before their arrival, Bombshell was spotted on the pond embankment with her ducklings. The Hysen family, visiting relatives from their Tennessee home, were observing the ducks with me. Jim, the dad, was able to nab the duck while I distracted her with duck chow pellets. What we found was disconcerting.
As Jim held her (above left), I found her foot ice cold. She no longer had circulation below the tightly wound fishing line. Even with the aid of a pocket knife, I was unable to dig the line out of the groove it had created in her leg (below) so Jim was charged with holding her firmly until the Lysons arrived. It was probably the longest 15 minutes of his life since mosquitoes were sampling his blood and he couldn’t swat them.
Matt and Theresa arrived with tweezers and other tools to remove the line. He’s had numerous encounters with carelessly discarded fishing line entangling ducks in the past. This one is surely one of his worst. The skin from more than half of her foot sloughed off as we worked (below right), the result of all circulation being cut off.
The Lysons will provide expert care at the Sanctuary
They intended to take her home, clean the extensive wound and apply wound dressings. The next step is unknown. The injury is extensive enough she will probably lose her lower leg and foot although ducks have the fortitude to surprise us. Had I called them just a day earlier, it might have been saved so I feel especially bad about this.
Before they left, they decided Bombshell would be less stressed if her two ducklings were captured and taken with her. With one deft swoop of his net, Matt caught both. Hatched on June 11, they are old enough to survive on their own, but they have maintained a close relationship with their mother so the companionship for all three of the birds will reduce the trauma somewhat.
Little did the Hysen family know what their evening held in store for them. Jim had prior experience catching ducks when he was about the age of his sons and his skills rescued the duck. His two sons, Logan and Chase, held flashlights as we worked so they had an experience in wildlife stewardship they will never forget. Their mother, Kellie, documented the encounter with her camera so they boys will have a full record of their involvement.
This rescue could have had a happier outcome had acted sooner, but at least this hen will survive. The care she will receive for the rest of her life will be exemplary at the Sanctuary. Her ducklings will stay with their mom until they can fly in another couple of months. Maybe they will find their way back to the millpond at some future date.
If you go fishing, please be sure to discard fishing lines and hooks properly so waterfowl won’t encounter them as Bombshell has done.