The Wildlife Center receives many more Wood Ducks and Black Bellied Whistling Ducks than their populations in the wild would imply. Speculation about this phenomenon centers around the fact that both species perch in trees and prefer to nest in tree cavities. All ducks nest near a water source or wetland, but perching ducks have a "bird’s eye view" of water sources that ground nesting ducks wouldn’t normally notice. The problem is that the parent ducks don’t take into account that there are fences or roads between their tree and the water source. Babies sometimes slip under a fence or into a pool where parents cannot retrieve them. What to do if you find unchaperoned ducklings. First, look to see if you can spot a parent and the other ducklings. If so, scoop up the wayward duckling(s) and release them near their siblings. If it is early in the day and there are no nearby predators – give the parents a few hours to reunite. If it is late in the day or the ducklings are threatened place them in a box and bring them to the Wildlife Center. What can you do to help this situation? Both species of duck will use nest boxes. The nest box should be placed in a location that has an unimpeded path to the water. If you are interested in building a nest box, click here. Both species of duck are territorial and a touch lazy. If there are too many nest boxes, a female will "dump" her eggs into someone else's nest box. She may think she's done her duty without having to sit on the eggs, but in nest boxes with two or more clutches none [...]
The Wildlife Center continues to receive Easter ducklings that have been dyed bright festive colors. This is despite our media blitz to educate parents that dyed ducklings and chicks make poor pets that will be killed by predators including dogs and cats if not protected. The day before Easter someone dropped off three “leftover” baby ducks, one pink, one green and one blue that had been party favors at an Easter party. Live animals as party favors? What were they thinking? Baby ducks and chickens are exceedingly cute, even if they are not dyed. Care of the hatchlings isn’t really too bad – they make a mess with their water, but they don’t eat much and there’s not that much poop. The problem is that by the time the duckling is the size of those in the photograph – they need lots or room, they make a huge mess with their water and their poop is super slimy when wet and hard as concrete when dry. Oh – and there’s lots of it. Now what happens? They are tame, they can’t fly yet and even once fully grown will need to be housed in a predator proof area at night. After Easter, the Wildlife Center of Texas received another 14 dyed ducks. One had been released in a community pond. The duckling was too young to fly. The duckling was so tame that it ran up to a big dog and was bitten. The dog broke the duck’s back and it had to be euthanized. Please help with the campaign against giving Easter ducks next year by reminding friends and acquaintances that there are rarely good outcomes for these little ones.
VOLUNTEERS GET ‘QUACKING’ Fall 2007 The Wildlife Center had two very special patients this fall. The first was a small female Mallard mixed duck brought to a WR&E rehabilitator, Margaret Pickell. After closer examination, it was determined that a dog had attacked the Mallard. Normally, wildlife is not given a domestic animal name, but this special creature had been named Ducka by the family who brought her in. For you see, Ducka has lived in a local pond for several years and had a unique problem. She had no feet, only little stubs but had obviously adapted quite well. Margaret transported Ducka to the Wildlife Center where she was treated for scratches and a sprained wing. Following a short recovery period, she healed and is now enjoying life at a ranch pond with other ducks - and no dogs. The other memorable patient was a Peking duck mix who was admitted with the tip of her beak hanging by a thread. Yet another caring family caught her and brought her to the wildlife center for proper care. One of the Wildlife Center’s valued and long-term volunteers, Diane Cheadle, an area veterinary technician, was able to use her years of experience and expertise to reconstruct the bill. Diane cleaned the wound, and then used a special dental product , Ortho-Jet (an acrylic resin used to make dental retainers) - to reconstruct the bill. The dilemma was that the duck wasn’t going to sit still for a fitting and anesthesia is always tricky in birds. As feared, the duck’s heart stopped during the operation and Diane had to resuscitate it. Some extra oxygen and chest compressions – and everything was ducky again. After a few weeks [...]