Duck Updates

May 8th, 2013     3 comments     permalink

Dumpling is still alone but staying safe

Once I start posting about specific ducks, people start contacting me to find out how they are doing so I thought I’d provide a quick summary of ducks recently mentioned. Dumpling (above) remains in Stillwater Bay. Her first night was spent near a bonded pair of mallards, but since then she’s been going it alone usually perched on a submerged log in the pond to avoid predators. The drakes haven’t ravished her yet.

The parking lot duck is being steadfastI discovered the hen nesting in the parking lot (left) is being carefully tended by the fine wait staff at Sushi Zen and they’ve named her Quackz. A delightful waitress told me Quackz’s bonded drake is almost always in attendance, and the hen has been there about three weeks. If they happen to be around when the ducklings hatch, she plans to notify me. I’ve love to help escort the family to the millpond which includes a waddle across Grand River Avenue’s five lanes of constant traffic.

There is no injury to the bill of the  duck hit by the SUV last WednesdayThe Black Swedish duck that was hit by a car is perfectly fine. The drake that was also hit has a slight limp. Dustin, a millpond regular, helped me feed her so I could get good close up shots to see if she has any noticeable injuries (right). I’m happy to report her bill is fine even though it was bloody on the night she was hit. Maybe she bit her tongue in the accident. She eats very well and that’s also a good sign.

There are no wounds from being hit by the SUV on the hen's body eitherFrick is staying away from the pond entirely and is hiding out along Mill Pond Lane to avoid the drakes. She can move her injured wing now so there’s some hope she can fly again. Her bonded partner is usually nearby but he seems to be straying more frequently lately.

Abe and Annabelle, two ducks with injured feet haven’t been seen in a couple of weeks. Tux is also absent. I’m not worried about any of them because the ducks dispersed within just a couple of days weeks ago and all of these disappeared at the same time. I think they are in unvisited nooks at the millpond or have journeyed to nearby ponds. They will all come back eventually. Maybe with ducklings in tow. Willaby vanished at the same time, but Wanda reported a sighting of him a few days ago so he’s A-okay.

A new challenge for Frick

April 30th, 2013     1 comment     permalink

I found Frick with an injured wing on April 15th

On April 18th, a worker in downtown rescued Frick from six drakesIt’s not easy being the smallest duck at the millpond. Especially when you were hand-raised and dumped by your previous owner who didn’t feed you well in your formative weeks. Frick arrived in early September, 2011 and has had an eventful life at the pond as regular readers of this blog know. On April 15th, another milestone in her life happened. I found her under a pine tree with a drooping left wing and her bonded partner (above). She might have had an encounter with a predator since she’s also missing tail feathers, but I think mating stress is probably the cause.

On April 19th, Frick was found hiding under shrubs and looking a little betterA worker in downtown (Who will remain anonymous for now but I thank her!) rescued Frick on April 18th while she was being attacked by six male ducks. She was disheveled (above right) so the worker placed her in a heated storeroom for the night. The following evening, I found her hiding under a shrub near the Imagination Station but in better shape than the night before (left). Then I didn’t see her for a few days.

I’m happy to report tiny Frick has found a nook in downtown where she can rest with her beau and avoid those pesky drakes (below). Sheryl, whose establishment will remain nameless so Frick isn’t disturbed, has reluctantly accepted having a bonded pair of Mallards as sentries for a while. Frick hasn’t built a nest there so she might be amassing eggs nearby or perhaps she’s decided having ducklings to care for is more than her injured wing can take right now. Her wing still droops, but she is able to move it around. That’s a good sign.

Frick is now spending time with her drake where other drakes won't find her

The chivalry of drakes

March 24th, 2013     0 comments     permalink

I saw a bonded pair of mallards on the far edge of the shore ice as I walked past. They jumped into the water and paddled toward me so I stopped to wait for them. I thought it was the pair I mentioned were honeymooning at that location last week. As they waddled toward me, I was checking the hen’s feet to verify her identify by her injured left foot. It wasn’t her. Then I heard a familiar squawk only one duck on the pond has. It was Frick with her new beau!

As Frick dines on duck chow, her attending drake stands guard

She has selected a handsome fellow with beautiful conformation and bright plumage. As a chivalrous suitor, the drake stood by while she ate. Drakes stand guard but rarely eat while courting. It’s probably an evolutionary strategy to guarantee the hen has the nutrition she needs for egg production. It’s in the drake’s self interest to have his mate produce healthy ducklings.

Frick looks toward the pond sensing it's time to go back

 

Last year, Frick hatched five babies on June 21st, but none survived. As a first time mom, I don’t think Frick had the skills she needed to protect them from predators. Maybe she’ll do better this year. Since she’s bonded early, I expect ducklings at least a month earlier this year. Frick has had a colorful life since she was dumped at the pond by her previous owner. You can find out more in a series of posts spanning the past two years.

Main Street’s Winter Ducks

January 17th, 2013     0 comments     permalink

At least 75% of the ducks that summer at the Brighton millpond flew south in late fall, but 70-80 ducks have remained for the winter. Forty percent of them are domestic (farm breeds) or domestic/wild hybrids. Most domestics can’t fly or can’t sustain flight long enough to migrate. The others are wild Mallards that had no motivation to leave since visitors feed them and they have enough body fat to endure the cold.

You can count on seeing this group of ducks in the evenings near Main Street during the winter months

During daylight, almost all of the millpond’s wintering ducks go to the southern end of the pond to cajole food from park visitors. As night falls, most fly the half-mile to the pond’s north end (near Grand River). There’s more open water there with better protection from predators and humans. Those staying near Main Street day and night are domestic ducks that cannot fly. They include The Dam Tribe, The Buda Bunch, and few others for a total of 14. Some nights there are more overnight guests, but rarely do the 14 regulars stray from the area during winter months.

Joyce Schuelke, owner of the Wildernest store, recently wrote about this winter “night crew” on her site’s blog. You can learn more about them there.

Single Parenting by Frick

July 1st, 2012     1 comment     permalink

The drake who was bonded with Frick for several months before her eggs hatched hasn’t reappeared. That’s not unusual for Mallards, but as the smallest adult duck on the pond, she could use some help defending her offspring. She’s holding her own by staying away from all of the other ducks. When they approach, she quickly swims out of range and her nine day old tyke tags along behind her.

Frick brings the kid for dinner

June 28th, 2012     2 comments     permalink

I heard a squawk near city hall and knew Frick was on her way to see me. Trailing her was one tiny duckling. That probably means the other four have been lost since I first saw them on June 21. Even this remaining one doesn’t seem to be flourishing. It didn’t nibble on the duck chow crumbs I threw to it. It’s the size of a 2-day-old but it’s about 8 days since it hatched.

As a first-time mother, Frick might not know how to care for youngsters yet. One of the tasks hen have is swimming her ducklings to nourishing food sources. There are plenty of them at the millpond this year. Small bays are filled with duckweed that’s small enough for the youngest ducklings to swallow and get the nutrition they need. Read all of Frick’s millpond adventures here.

Consoling Poor Frick: Hahaha

June 22nd, 2012     8 comments     permalink

I’m old enough to have had many losses in my life so I thought I might be able to help Frick deal with the destruction of her nest two days ago. In searching for her, I found her under the pine tree again on her old nest. I thought that was odd. I didn’t realize ducks would start laying eggs so quickly after losing a clutch. So I sat down on the raised flower bed’s edge where she was within reach and gave her a couple of handfuls of duck chow. She seemed appreciative to have the company and liked the vittles.

She took a couple of steps out of the nest to get closer to my hand. A tiny, dark head appeared below her. Then another and another. Well, I’ll be damned. Ducklings! Five of them! I didn’t think she had been nesting in that spot for 28 days and her eggs were so clean, they looked freshly laid when I photographed them just four days ago. It didn’t enter my mind that the broken eggs scattered around the nest were the remains of hatching instead of plunder.

Frick let the kids come right to me. I lifted up the little butterscotch babe, the only one that’s not marked like a typical Mallard. What a great surprise. It will be fun to watch these little ones grow up since it’s okay with mom if I’m around even if I have a tendency to write misleading blog posts. This is 2012Brood15. It’s not a contender for the grand prize, but a very happy addition.

Dramatic Trifecta: Plunder!

June 21st, 2012     1 comment     permalink

When I first announced that Frick was nesting, I intentionally didn’t reveal the location of the nest because I feared it might be vandalized. But a predator has broken all of her eight eggs and licked them clean (below right) so I can now tell you that she picked a terrible location. It was in the raised bed right beside the entrance to the Brighton City Hall (below left) and in plain sight from two heavily traveled sidewalks. One of them goes directly to the Imagination Station so children were almost at eye level with it. Even though you had to stare to see it through the clumps of decorative grasses, it wasn’t a good spot. I’m more surprised that a predator got to it before the kids did. I haven’t been able to locate Frick since this happened.

2012 Brood 15

June 19th, 2012     0 comments     permalink

Hen Frick!
Drake(s) Bonded to typical Mallard drake
DOB (estimate) June 19
Pond Location City Hall Entrance
1st Meeting June 21 at the nest
Duckling Count 5 verified, four are typical coloration, one is butterscotch, June 21

I saw the empty nest on June 19 with no sign of Frick and several broken eggs scattered. I thought a predator had destroyed the nest.

June 21: Frick was back in the nest which I thought was odd. I didn’t know ducks would renest so soon after their eggs were ruined. As I was hand feeding her, tiny heads started to pop out from underneath her. Babies! Five of them.


Posts including this brood:

06/20/12 :: Dramatic Trifecta: Plunder! [I got the story wrong. Sue me.]
06/21/12 :: Consoling Poor Frick: Hahaha!

Frick’s going to be a mom!

June 17th, 2012     2 comments     permalink

Other than SweetPea, no millpond duck has received more blog space than Frick. She was dumped at the pond last September with her sibling, Frack, who died shortly after his arrival. Dumped ducks don’t fare well when introduced into wild flocks, but pet owners don’t know that. Eight dumped ducks arrived in 2011, only four are alive today. That’s a sad fact considering normal lifespans are 8-12 years.

In January, Frick started making goo-goo eyes at a handsome Mallard drake who returned her head bobs. They became a bonded pair for the next four months. When I’ve seen Frick lately, however, her Prince Charming wasn’t with her. I gave up hope on her raising a family this season. Little did I realize she was already doing just that.

Last night, I was showing trusted duckwatchers a nest I found more than a week ago. As I talked, the hen got up and came over to me. It was Frick! I didn’t realize it was her nest on my previous visits. While she was off the nest, I took a quick shot of her eight eggs (right). The nest and eggs are textbook perfect. I’ve never seen cleaner eggs or a duck nest lined with more down than this one. Considering she arrived with permanent evidence of malnourishment while growing up, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Hopefully, the kids visiting the park won’t dismantle the nest in the 2-3 weeks she still needs to hatch ducklings. So far, so good, but it’s in a dangerously obvious location. Think good thoughts.

Stand by your duck

April 29th, 2012     2 comments     permalink

Tammy “Stand By Your Man” Wynette was right. It pays to be pair bonded. Most ducks pair up for the full breeding season but it isn’t a lifetime (8-12 years) commitment. Ducks that remained at the millpond all winter started to make goo-goo eyes are potential mates in late January. Frick (above) appears to be fine following her bizarre overturning this week. She waddled up to me in a spritely manner a few night afterward with her drake in tow. Within seconds of their arrival, another drake approached Frick, but her partner quickly chased the interloper 50 yards away.

Mrs PomPom (above), on the other hand, doesn’t have a drake protecting her. She endures the torment of many suitors who rip out feathers from her crest and have severely wounded her neck for the past three months. It’s shocking to compare these photos to her October, 2011 portrait. I’m particularly concerned about the unhealing scab above her right eye. The other night, her eye looked clouded, almost white. I thought she had gone blind, but I checked back later to discover that was her third eyelid (nictitating membrane) and it had retracted again. She’s dirty and not grooming herself well. I’m sure she doesn’t have the energy for self maintenance. I hope she survives. She’s a sad example of why domestic ducks should never be dumped into wild flocks. The problem is compounded since she doesn’t have a drake defending her when rogue drakes come calling.

Valiant (right), born last summer, is the exact opposite of Mrs. PomPom. She’s found a highly protective mate for the summer. Look at how beautiful she is; not a feather out of place, well fed, and healthy. I’m glad my prediction she was doomed last summer didn’t come true. I look forward to meeting her ducklings sometime this summer. Bet they’ll be beauties like her, and she’ll probably allow me to get close enough to photograph them.

Frick: Overturned turtle imitation

April 25th, 2012     5 comments     permalink

Anyone who reads this blog knows how violent duck mating can be. About 30% of it is forced upon hens and all nearby drakes join in. Above, seven drakes pinned down a female, but this is only the beginning of what is one of the oddest duck behaviors I’ve ever seen.

I hadn’t seen Frick in about a week. I suspected she had started nesting with the drake she has been courting since January. Monday evening, she appeared and walked right up to me to be fed. She looked scrawny and disheveled, but she’s often looked that way since arriving at the pond last September. As I fed her, I noticed she was limply holding her wings lower than usual and she had lost all of her speculum feathers, the bright blue and white ones. If you compare this picture (right) with her photograph from last October, you can see how different she looks now.

When the hen (top) was able to get away from the drakes, she ran past Frick into a clump of shrubs beside the millpond. Suddenly, Frick was drawn into this mating frenzy and began to run. Two of the drakes turned their attention to Frick. She was soon pinned down (left) while the other hen had four males attacking her.

Frick got away and returned to the grass but was soon pinned down again by the two males. Frick’s mate, who had been of no help up until this point, jumped into the fray and eventually chased the interlopers away. As they departed, Frick got turned over onto her back. At first, I thought this was a defensive posture. Many birds of prey do this to expose their attackers to their sharp talons. I thought this might also be a way to keep males from mounting her back since females are always pinned to the ground on their stomachs.

I took a few pictures quickly. I’d never seen a duck lying on its back, and I expected her to quickly jump to her feet. Her mate returned to her after he chased away the two drakes, and she just looked at him. He didn’t show her any personal attention but sat down a few inches away as she continued to lie on her back.

She’d close her eyes like she was going to nap. Maybe she was exhausted from the attack yet she’d quickly open them again and look at her partner to see if he was still standing guard. I suppose that’s about as deep as duck relationships get.

She’d turn her head and wiggle her feet but wasn’t struggling to right herself or acting stressed out. It was as if she was glued to the ground at her shoulders and couldn’t quite figure out why she was in that position. I doubt she was traumatized by the attack. It wasn’t particularly long or brutal. I’ve seen much worse.

I wonder if her response was the result of being ill. That might explain her loss of feathers, too. Perhaps she’s just exhausted from the whole mating season. She’s less than a year old and really small. She can’t defend herself as well as larger hens and she can’t fly away from conflicts. Maybe she’s intentionally stayed away from the pond lately to avoid the unwanted attention of rogue drakes. I’ve seen other hens hide when unattached drakes are around.

She’d look at her partner then look at me kneeling about five feet away. She’d close her eyes for a minute and then do it all again. In checking the times recorded when I snap each picture, I can document she laid there for more than five minutes! It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen a duck do but since I’m not knowledgeable, maybe this isn’t unusual behavior at all.

Finally, I approached. She didn’t react with any fear, but she eats out of my hand so it isn’t too surprising. I gently lifted her enough so she could right herself and then she casually waddled off as if nothing happened.

Danger at the millpond

April 7th, 2012     1 comment     permalink

It looks innocent, but an untended bobber with a line attached is not a good sign. Fortunately, it was only a foot from the edge of the Brighton millpond so I was able to snare it with a stick I found nearby.

Yup, a hook and a 5″ Chartreuse/Black Flake Curly Tail were on the end of the line (right). I deposited it in the special PVC Monofilament Recycling Bin at the pond (left) so it won’t entangle or hook an unsuspecting critter. We can thank the BoatUS Foundation for this welcome addition to our local pond.

Readers of this blog might remember my first experience as a duck surgeon last October on a very cooperative Frick who had tried to swallow a hook. Nurse Kate and I were able to successfully remove it. Frick is getting ready to have ducklings of her own this summer*, but she was lucky. Other wildlife can spend the rest of their lives in discomfort or succumb to infection. Some hooks and lines will be lost when large fish snap them or hooks snag overhead branches or submerged obstacles. Those aren’t as dangerous as the ones left loosely on the shore where wildlife can inadvertently hook themselves or humans can embed them in their bare feet. If you see untended fishing line, please make the effort to wad it up and dispose of it properly. If left in the wild, it will take years for it to dissolve, if ever.

*When I wrote that post, I thought Frick was a male. With young ducks, it’s hard to tell the difference. She paired up with a drake this January. They are constant companions as they contemplate starting a family near the Imagination Station. I think they are still house hunting.

How to identify Frick

March 17th, 2012     0 comments     permalink

Ever since Frick was discarded by her previous owner at the Brighton millpond last September, she’s been an easy-to-spot addition to the resident wildfowl population and a frequent subject of this blog including her encounter with a fish hook on October 9th. She arrived with her sibling, Frack, who looked exactly like her. Both had the scuffiest tail feathers on the pond. One observer remarked they looked like “unmade beds.”

The pair were obviously hand-raised and probably not given a proper diet. Their legs and bills were shorter than all of the other ducks. My guess is they were fed a lot of bread. It doesn’t have enough protein and other nutrients for young ducks to develop well. Bread is junk food for ducks, but they love it.

Frack vanished (probably died) about three weeks after arriving. Frick found herself the lowest duck in the pecking order due to her size and lack of skills. Hand-raised ducks rarely fare well when thrown into wild populations. To this day, she’s skittish when other ducks approach except for one charming drake she began to court in January. They find each other fascinating. I suspect she’ll disappear this spring to incubate a hidden nest full of eggs for 28 days.

You’ll find her near Main Street with her beau. Her scuffy tail feathers are gone now that she’s grown adult plumage. Look for the smallest female mallard with the lowest center of gravity as indicated by comparing her photo (top with a full crop after eating) with the stature of a typical mallard hen (right). Her waddle is comical due to her short legs but they don’t slow her down. To my knowledge, she’s unable to fly. Her short bill is dark except for an orange tip that will help you spot her when she’s in the water. You may be able to lure her to eat out of your hand if you sit on a bench and let her come toward you instead of you moving toward her. It will take patience.

Flirtatious Frick

January 27th, 2012     4 comments     permalink

What? Courting behavior in the dead of winter? It appears tiny, stubby Frick is already planning her summer nuptials by batting her eyes at a handsome drake even though she’s only about six months old. To be honest, I haven’t seen any eye batting, but I’ve watched her swim in front of several drakes and do some serious head bobbing.

Hens bob their heads and turn slightly away from drakes they are trying to impress. As they bob, they cluck. It’s sort of a giggle as if the drake has just told them something terribly amusing and slightly bawdy. This particular drake shows signs he’s finding her infatuating. He returned some head bobbing and encouraged her to trail along as he paddled around what’s left of open water. Mallards pair up for the breeding season but unattached drakes will rush to share the hen’s affection if the selected male lets his guard down. I didn’t realize pairing up begins so early, but it makes perfect sense. Ducks have little else to do during the winter months. They don’t have cable or an Internet connection.

Frick: Waddling with the big ducks

January 4th, 2012     0 comments     permalink

An Arctic blast froze the millpond quickly. Temps on Tuesday afternoon struggled to reach 20 degrees. The 16 ducks at the south end (near Main Street) have maintained a circle of open water about 15 feet in diameter by paddling. All of the largest ducks are at the south end because they can’t fly. Along with them is tiny Frick (in foreground, below) who is half their size. Although she’s old enough, I don’t think she can fly and may never be able to because of nutrition deficits from her early life. Fifty one ducks have bivouacked at the north end of the pond where there is more open water and plants to browse.

Brighton's mill pond ducks nibble on suck chow while standing on the pond's newly formed ice

The large ducks all have some Pekin heritage so they are docile. They don’t hassle Frick as much as the wilder ducks. If she spends the winter with them, she might be accepted into one of their groups which would reduce the stress she’s under vying for rations with the rest of the flock. The current distribution of ducks might not last the whole winter. Temperatures are supposed to climb this week and the pond ice might vanish again. The northern ducks will probably fly to the south end for human handouts, too, and might decide to winter there. Few park visitors walk the half mile to the northern end to feed them.

Following the feast

December 27th, 2011     1 comment     permalink

Following our Christmas Eve dinner, Duck 65 decided to use the host’s shoelace as dental floss while Frick continued to patiently watch the host’s hands hoping they might reach into the empty bag to miraculously discover more duck chow.

Migration within the millpond

December 10th, 2011     3 comments     permalink

Once the colder weather settled in, most of the ducks retreated to the small bay south of the Stillwater Grill. I thought their relocation was due to storms. This bay is protected from the winds by trees surrounding it. In addition, there has been plenty of submerged plants growing in the cold water to keep them well fed. Visitors rarely feed them there.

Now that thin ice forms on the surface of this bay at night, the flock has moved back to the Main Street area even though there’s less shelter from the wind, more stress from humans, and certainly less plant life since the shoreline is cold cement. The motivation has to be the public handouts they can charm from park visitors. More than a third of the wintering ducks are domestic breeds or hybrids. They truly cannot fend for themselves and thrive. The others are ducks that have learned humans are great sources of food which means they can spend less time foraging on their own.

Frick, the pond’s smallest duck, and Buda, the largest, are both at ease while waiting for me to offer them some duck chow (above). Buda is docile, something Frick has obviously learned since she’s paying no attention to the duck that’s four times her size. Madeline (top photo, the tan duck), on the other hand, is more wary as she watches the movements of three Mallard drakes to make sure none of them lunges to inflict a painful nip. Note how little Frick ignores the larger ducks surrounding her as she looks up to see what’s taking me so long to dole out the chow.

Frick is fine

October 14th, 2011     2 comments     permalink

Looks like my adventure in duck doctoring was a success. Frick’s right cheek is still a little swollen but I don’t see any evidence of infection from the fish hook. He’s very active even though this photograph finds him at rest beside the pond. Wish I was certified as a duck cosmetologist. Then, while he was in the arms of Kate, I could have given him a shampoo and comb out. He’s the scruffiest duck in the pond. Maybe he intentionally lets his feathers point in all directions to look bigger and tougher. It’s not working for him. He’s relentlessly attacked by the larger/older ducks. He’s also molting right now so his feathers are in a hodgepodge of shapes and sizes.

Update: Frick

October 11th, 2011     0 comments     permalink

I’ve visited my first surgical patient in my unplanned amateur duck doctoring practice each day since I removed the hook. I’m happy to report he’s alive and still thinks I’m an okay guy instead of the SOB who caused him pain. I was afraid he might swim in the opposite direction every time he saw me, but duck chow mends friendships.

His right cheek is swollen (top) so it looks like he’s carrying a shelled peanut in it. The white flecks on his bill are crumbs from duck chow. As you probably know, ducks don’t use napkins. The golden yellow leaves behind him are from the Locust trees that line Main Street near the millpond.

Viewed from above his head, you can compare his right and left cheeks and see the difference (right). I don’t want to hear any complaints about how blurry Frick is in this photo. Have you ever tried to feed a duck with one hand while photographing a moving target with the other?

A Fiasco for Frick

October 9th, 2011     7 comments     permalink

Frick and Frack were dumped at the pond by their previous owner during the second week of September. One of the identical twins died. I’m not sure if it was Frick or Frack. I’ll assume it was Frack for the purposes of this blog. Ducks don’t have pockets so they don’t carry identifying papers.

Frick has had a difficult time adjusting to his new environment. He’s not accepted by the resident ducks, is Low Duck in the pecking order, and is chased by the bigger ducks. I haven’t noticed him growing. He might be as large as he’s going to get although he’s only the size of a young duck. Only his previous owner knows his history. I’m sure Frick would rather be with him.

Saturday evening, 30-40 feet of monofilament fishing line was hanging out of his mouth and wrapped around his leg. I used duck chow to lure him, but he stayed out of reach which is unusual for him. He’s often waddling around my shoes. Head movements told me he was distracted by the discomfort of the hook. After an hour of tossing him pellets, I got my foot on the fishing line just as Frick jumped in the water.

My dad taught me how to fish but never how to land a duck. As gently as possible, trying not to jerk the line which might “set” the hook even further into his flesh, I let Frick take out all of the line. I was hoping the line would simply slip out of  his mouth and he’d be on his way, no worse for wear. No such luck. Frick struggled. Now I knew the hook was permanently set and Frick didn’t understand I was there to help rather than hurt.

As Frick splashed around, another duck arrived and began to attack him. Huh? I don’t understand this behavior but I’ve seen it before. When a large Pekin duck was bitten by the turtle this summer, his best buddy (a large mallard) attacked him. Had the Pekin not defended himself, he would have drowned. Ducks don’t follow the don’t-hit-a-duck-when-he’s-down-for-the-count rule of boxing. The attacker finally left. Frick was tuckered out which gave me an advantage. I pulled in some of the line. He struggled several more times and got further entangled. At one point, I thought he might drown but then his head popped up. Following a 10-minute tussle, Frick was standing at the shore, shaken and tired. Now I was faced with a significant problem: no one was around. I was in this dilemna at 11:15 pm alone.

That’s when Kate DeBaene and her beau happened to stroll by enjoying the beautiful autumn evening. After convincing them I wasn’t deranged or luring them into some sort of diabolic trap, they agreed to help. Before I could suggest a game plan, Kate was on her hands and knees reaching into the water to grab Frick. I asked if she had ever picked up a duck before. She replied, “no,” but willingly pressed on.

Even wild ducks quickly calm down when cradled. Kate soon had Frick and a mass of fishing line in her arms. I was elected Attending Physician. The patient wasn’t cooperative at first as I evaluated the situation, but then he settled down. At one point, I asked Kate if he was dead. He had gone totally limp. She assured me she could feel his heartbeat. I guess he surrendered to his fate.

The hook was set deeply. I couldn’t bring myself to yank it out and damage more flesh or cartilage. I wiggled it around for five minutes. It felt like an hour. Success! Kate continued to hold him so he could calm down. I brought him duck chow as a peace offering and he gobbled it still cradled in Kate’s arms. When she finally released him, he walked away quacking, flapped his wings a few times to dissipate his tension, and began to groom. Thanks for being an angel of mercy in this rescue mission, Kate! You might want to launder that coat. :-)

Maybe a fishermen hooked Frick and merely cut the line so he didn’t have to deal with it or Frick might have found the broken line while foraging on the sidewalk. It doesn’t matter. The point is monofilament line and hooks are a danger to ducks and need to be discarded carefully. A 6″ white PVC tube is strapped to a lamppost near the city hall’s leg of the Tridge. It’s clearly marked as a receptacle for fishing lines and hooks. Please help protect the pond’s wildlife.

Coincidentally, earlier in the same day, I took a photo of a Canada Goose that also had a fishing line hanging from its mouth. It might be the same line found later by Frick. I didn’t notice it until I viewed the photo on my large monitor at home. I’ll keep an eye out for that goose, but I’m not sure I have the courage to be the Attending Physician for an uncooperative 10-pound bird with a sharp-edged bill, claws on its feet, and flapping wings extending five feet.

Frick and Frack dumped at the pond

September 10th, 2011     6 comments     permalink

Two new ducks arrived at the Brighton millpond this past week. One is so tame he can almost be picked up while eating. They are about two months old, and I’m not sure they’re healthy. They have scruffy tails. Could it be an intestinal problem? Perhaps the odd tails are just from the stress of being in a new environment. The resident ducks are pecking at them and chasing them away (below), not unusual when new ducks arrive. They seem to handle the abuse well, but we’ll see how the next month goes.

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