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Posts Tagged ‘Ducks’

It is spring here in Australia- the time of young; the ‘baby-boom’ season of nature. It is usually at this time of year that we Carers become inundated with animals, especially juveniles and babies.

After a quick look at my last couple of blog entries, I see that the last time I posted was in May. It has been fairly quiet (as expected) up until now. Two weeks ago we received a call to come pick up a couple of Pacific Black Ducklings; the mother had walked off with her brood, and these two had somehow been left behind. Two days later we received another, similar call. Except that this time Mother Duck had been frightened by dogs and had walked off with one duckling tagging along, while the remaining seven were left behind. The residents had already caught them when they rang us. As all the ducklings were around the same age, we put the two from before in with the newest seven so they could grow up together. Unfortunately, one duckling died the next morning (I am unsure as to what was wrong). The remaining eight are well 🙂

Last year we were flooded with ducks, so far this year we have had more magpies than ducklings (though I shouldn’t speak too soon). On the 17th we got in a young magpie that was bleeding a little from the tip of the beak, but was otherwise ok. He is now being crèched with other young magpies by someone else. Most birds do better when crèched with others, and fret when are left alone. Five days later we got in another young magpie, which we also passed on to another carer to be crèched; and yesterday we got in two more magpies from a Vet Clinic (one juvenile, one still a chick to be hand-fed).

In the meantime we also received a Murray Magpie chick that had been found in someone’s roof gutter. They had taken it inside, but by the time we were able to come and get it, bring it home and try to warm it up it was already too late. The poor thing had been chilled for too long. If you are reading this and you one day find an injured or orphaned animal, please remember that the first thing that needs to be done is to keep the animal warm. Warmth is the first requirement. If it is obvious the animal needs immediate medical attention, take it straight to a veterinary clinic or animal hospital. If for any reason you find yourself looking after an animal the first thing to do is to warm the bird or animal up to about 32 degrees (Celsius) with a desk lamp, electric heat pad or hot water bottle. Don’t feed them for at least an hour, and leave them in a warm, dark quiet place to recover from shock.

Before you even think about feeding an animal, make sure you know what you have so you can give them the proper diet and the best chance at survival.

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Our most recent call- out was to come get a mother duck and her five ducklings out of a pool, as the owner was worried what might happen as she had just got a dog.

When we got there we had a look at the situation. Mother and brood were swimming around in the pool, which looked polluted; the water was almost white. We tried catching the mother first. She flew off then came back a few times, always landing on the back lawn and calling to her young. However, the ducklings seemed to have been having trouble getting out of the pool. The water level was just a little too low for them to be able to jump out, and there wasn’t anything floating on the water for them to jump onto.

As we were having too much trouble catching the mother (I didn’t have high hopes catching her either as we never seem able to do so), we went for the ducklings, whom proved a tricky lot to catch. All five kept diving underwater, staying under for a few seconds, and then appearing again on the opposite side of the pool to where they dived. As the water was so murky, we couldn’t see them once they’d gone under so could not track their movements and get nets underneath them. The situation was proving more difficult than what we first thought. As the ducklings continued to dive and elude us, I grew more concerned as they couldn’t get out of the water. We tried calling for assisstance from the RSPCA and Fauna Rescue (other members), but no-one was available to help. We were on our own. At this point in time, I was quite concerned that this was going to turn into a disaster. Mother duck was there, and her young were calling to her but seemed unable to get out of the water to join her; the water was polluted and the ducklings kept diving and avoiding our nets. If the ducklings kept up the diving and could not get out of the water, it was a possibility that they would drown.

After a little while, however, one duckling managed to jump out of the pool. It ran off to join its mother somewhere at the back of the yard (a yard full of bushes, creeper, shrubs, webs and mice). At least one duckling was out of the pool, but mother was being rather quiet. Not wanting to tire out the ducklings, we stayed back, trying to get some assistance from other people. No one could help. The owner placed a couple of rakes and the pool net in a corner of the pool where the ducklings had got out before, with the ends floating in the pool so the ducklings could use that to get out.

In the meantime mother duck had lead one duckling into the garage. I followed her in and closed the exits. My mum came in too, and we went for the mother again. She fluttered a bit and came crahsing down, landing in a small box of glass bottles. Mum threw a towel over her and tried wrapping it around her to get hold of her. The duck managed to slip out of the towel but, before she could flutter away again, I grabbed her and quickly shoved her into the cat cage we had brought with us. We now had the mother. All we had to do now was catch her young and we could relocate them all. If we had not caught the mother, we would have caught the ducklings and raised them ourselves.

We had to wait for the ducklings to get out of the pool themselves, as they would be much too hard to get out with nets, as they kept scattering and diving out of sight. I took mother duck, in the cage, to the lawn and placed her near the pool where she and her ducklings could see and hear each other. I hoped that this would coax the ducklings out. Four were still in the pool, one was hiding somewhere in the garage where its mother had left it.

After a long wait, the ducklings in the pool finally started to come out, one at a time and with much difficulty. However, I lost track of one. as I did not see him come out and had not seen him for a while I grew concerned that he had drowned. The owner pointed out that because we had not been watching the pool every second (I kept checking to see if I could find the duckling in the garage) it was possible that he had jumped out of the pool when weren’t watching.

Mother duck was very quiet, and would not call to her young. We found this a little strange but came to the conclusion that she did not want her ducklings found once they’d come out of the pool so did not call to them. As we waited for the remaining three, I kept checking in the garage. At one point I heard peeping, checked again in the section where mother had hidden, and finally found the little duck hiding right in the corner. I called to mum who had the nets, and we captured him. We put him in a seperate basket and placed him next to his mother in the yard. One duckling down, four to go.

Finally the others came out one at a time, and looking quite tired; immediately after getting out they ran and hid in the creeper amongst the bushes. They were all scattered now. In the meantime I was having second thoughts as to whether one had drowned or not; there was no body floating in the water like I thought there would be if it had.

Once all the ducklings were out, we began our search for the ducklings now hiding very quietly in the garden. Walking around quietly and peering into bushes and the creeper that seemed to cover that entire section of the yard; I kept my ears open for any rustling or peeping. After a while I heard movement, and saw the leaves of the creeper move that indicated there was a duckling in there. Mum and I grabbed our nets and tried blocking his way. It was very diffcult. The duckling was right up against the fence and at one point hid behind a sheet of metal in the corner; we were also concerned about any spiders hiding in the webs. After a while, however, we managed to catch the duckling and put him with his sibling in the basket.

The next duckling was found in the same section of creeper a little while later, however, he was a little more difficult as he had wedged himself in amongst the small, dense branches of the creeper. Worried he was going to squash himself to death, I did my best to pull the branches away from the duckling but he just wedged himself in further. I pulled on the branches more and tried getting my hand in to pull him out…and then he managed to free himself and ran along the fence a bit. I managed to grab him too, and now we had three ducklings.

We searched a little for the fourth, but all was quiet, it was getting late and we had to get the others home. Mum let the owner know to call Fauna Rescue again if she spotted either of the two missing ducklings (including the one that we weren’t sure had drowned or not) the next day. We weren’t going to be on call, but we had the family, and would be keeping them for a little while for observation before relocating them.

As they talked I continued the search, but only found mice staring at me from the back fence and running up and down a small tree. If the missing ducklings didn’t survive the night, or got themselves caught in the bushes the mice would most certainly get them.

We picked up the mother and ducklings, and were just turning to leave when I spotted movement in a bush right next to the pool. The wind was blowing but the movement was not consistent with the wind. Deciding to check it out in case it was one of the ducklings, I carefully walked over, knelt down and pulled back the leaves of the bush. There, sitting quietly was a Pacific Black Duckling. He was obviously tired, and had his head in between branches, but I got him out easily. Mum and I were relieved, and the owner looked absolutely delighted. Only one to go now, unless he had drowned, but we weren’t one hundred percent sure of that.  Once again mum let her know to call us if the last duckling showed up, and we took our leave.

Back home we had to put the family in the cocky cage, which would be fine for one or two days. Mother was of course agitated and tried finding a way out, even trying what she knew was the door. We realized that she and the seven slightly older ducklings we already had in our care could hear each other. The ducklings wanted to see this mother duck, and mother duck wanted the ducklings she could hear. She even seemed to be ignoring her own ducklings to answer the others.

We rang a couple of people on the matter, and both gave us the same advice. Try putting one of the older ducklings in with mother and family and see what happens. If mother accepts that duckling, she would likely accept the rest; it’s what she wants. I put one duckling in with her and she accepted it straight away. The remaing six strayed out of their pen, and we hearded them towards the cocky cage. Mother duck watched and called out as we rounded the rest up and put them into the pen with her.

I don’t think any of the ducks could quite believe it. Mother duck suddenly had a bigger family, and the seven ducklings suddenly had a mother again. Mother duck calmed down considerably once she had adopted the others. We were very pleased with this unexpected turn of events.

At about nine o’clock at night we got a phone call. It was the owner. As it turned out the last duckling was alive, and was swimming around in the pool crying out for its mother. We were relieved it was still alive, but I also felt guilty that we had left it behind. It was dark now, so we quickly grabbed torches and drove back to the house. On the way I hoped we would make it in time. The duckling was all alone, swimming and would get chilled very quickly without mother’s warmth; I was also concerned that he might drown from exhaustion (like we had thought had happened in the first place). We got there, and the owner came out with the pool net, a sodden and tired duckling inside. I gently took it out, placed it in the basket and wrapped the towel around it for warmth. We thanked the owner, relieved the duckling was caught so quickly (the net was still in the pool, and when the duckling jumped in she just scooped him out). I kept a close eye on the duckling on the way home, hoping he wasn’t too chilled; I heard him call out at one stage and knew he was warming up.

Back home I placed him in a box inside, grabbed a sibling from the others outside (with mother hissing a little) and put them together. This was to give the little duckling time to warm up and get his strength back before putting him with the others. Fortunately it was a relatively warm night, as the lamp we use decided not to work. We left the siblings together for an hour so (with food and water), before deciding that the newest arrival was ok and that they would be best with their mum. Mother duck had settled well with all the ducklings, and we placed the two in there with no problems. The newest seemed to recognize mum and cuddled in with the others straight away. My only concern was that because the other seven were older, they were also bigger than mother duck’s five. It was also a little cramped in there and I was worried someone might get squashed overnight; I took out their swimming water and gave them a large water well instead.

Next morning all was well; they had all settled with each other completely and everyone was alive and well. We contacted another Fauna Rescue member who could take them to her sister’s dam on an adjoining property to hers. It was a bit of a walk to the dam, but was well worth it. Food was put out for the ducks, and then we released the ducklings onto the dam. They gathered together and started swimming away. I then released mother (who was facing the wrong way at first). She immediately swam to her biological and newly- fostered young. The ducklings fell into line behind her and they swam away across the large dam. We watched on in delight as mother lead her young to a small ‘island’ near the other side of the dam…

Being able to successfully re-release animals back into the wild is the best feeling. They are back where they belong. Some days are very trying but it’s rescues like these that make it all worth while. Not only did we succsessfully catch mother, her entire family and relocate them, but she adopted the seven orphans we already had in our care as well…and they were all released together; one big happy family. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome 🙂

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Been so busy this month, what with organising a Christmas party and all…

But now the last (and very late) update on the ducks. Well, we managed to get them all to homes 🙂 The first lot of Black Ducks went to the same Fauna Rescue member as we usually take Wood Ducks. Now she can’t take anymore though because she has too many than her dam can hold. The second lot went to another couple who are also Fauna Rescue members. We took the ducklings to the couple’s home…and they will release them when they are ready to fly.

We had three Wood Ducklings in our care, only one seemed to be falling behind the others and wasn’t eating well so we took him back to Minton Farm. Last I heard he was in with some chickens and was doing well. The other two Wood Ducks stayed in our care until we could find them a home, which prooved a little difficult. Also, as they were getting very close to flying, we couldn’t let them out of the pen for a while, as we didn’t want them flying from here. Eventually, however, we found someone who could take them and by now they would be roaming free on their property amongst other ducks. 🙂

I don’t think I’ll be posting on Fauna Rescue for a while, as we are off- call for Christmas (we are too busy to take calls at the moment) and I also have a new job I need to concentrate on. It’s at a boarding kennel. I’m both nervous and excited, as I don’t often get to spend much time with dogs. There are cats there also but I have worked with them before.

Still, I would like to get back to Fauna Rescue. I’m hearing people are getting inundated with animals, and I want to help!

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Been so busy with ducklings, I’ve forgotten to update on here! The last thing I think I updated on was when we had the first ducklings outside with no light for the first time, yes? Well, we’ve been busy since the 28th of October.  We’ve had in a couple of long- neck tortoises, a couple of young magpies…and more ducklings. We’ve had to go off-call until new year because we ended up with over thirty ducklings! Most of them Pacific Blacks, but three are Australian Wood Ducks.

Three of the Pacific Blacks have already gone to a new home; the one we got on it’s own, one of the older ones that kept him company, and another one that came on it’s own since (he was slightly older too).

The first clutch of ducklings we got in are almost fully-grown now. They have only to grow their flights and they’ll be ready to take off (literally). Right now we are just trying to find them a home to take off from, as we don’t want them flying from here. Ten Pacific Blacks  are about three weeks old, and we currently have them in an old hutch. We are also trying to find them a home to be released at when they’re ready. We are having a Christmas party here at our place mid- December, and we don’t have the room to keep so many ducks here until they are all grown up. The Wood Ducks aren’t quite so messy and are easier to look after; and there are only three of them, so we are quite happy to look after them until they are also ready to fly.

However, whilst we sort out where the Pacific Blacks can go, they will stay here. The older ones are quite happy to wander free out the back. We can’t let the younger Blacks mix with the older ones, as the older ones will attack them. We can’t let the Wood ducks near them either for the same reason. There’s just too much of an age difference. Once they’re all fully- grown adults, however, I think they’ll be ok. They can all defend themselves and/or fly off if they need to.

Overall everything is well. We just need to find them safe release sights, which has been made difficult by the fact that many people are having fox problems at the moment. There are at least two people who may be able to take them, as they both have a dam on their property where the ducks could go for refuge if attacked or sleep at night; otherwise, while they can’t fly they are vulnerable.

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All the ducklings are going well. In fact, the first lot we got in are spending their first night outside with no light tonight. The last two nights they had a light to gradually get them used to sleeping outside. At the moment they are in a hutch, but soon they will spend their nights in a puppy pen. The pen is for security; they cannot sleep outside without some sort of protection, as there are cats in this area and the ducklings have no means of defending themselves and can’t fly.  Also, they will finally be able to have a proper run around in the garden, and a proper swim in a small wading pool. They are about two weeks old.

The second clutch are about a week younger (so just over a week old). In a few days they will be transferred to the hutch at night (with a light) and then once they are sleeping without it they will be put together with the older ones. Unfortunately, two of them may be a little late.

The reason for that is that last night we got in a lone duckling (a Pacific Black- just like the rest of them). Where his siblings or his Mother got to, I don’t know. So he wouldn’t fret, I took two of the smallest ducklings from the second group that came in and put them in with this little guy. So far, they have been good buddies for him. The reason why I didn’t put him in with them was because he is too young, and too small. They could trample him and make it hard for him to get food and water. Once he is older and bigger, he will be put with them. The only problem is his two ‘buddies’ will then miss out a little because they are keeping him company. Hopefully he will start getting bigger pretty quickly soon (ducklings tend to “grow before your eyes”), and mingling him with the rest won’t be a problem.

Last night’s arrival brings the current grand total to twenty-one.

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Yep…that’s about all I’m hearing today! Not even my Cockatiels have been making much noise today. They haven’t felt the need to! LOL

Two days ago a second duckling was found dead in the morning. I was shocked, and upset…not to mention angry and confused as I didn’t know what was wrong. We took the ducklings to the Vet for a check, but he couldn’t find anything wrong. All that can be presumed was that the ducklings had been through so much already that the ones that had died had used up all their reserves. Even though food, water and shelter was being provided, the damage had already been done. This second one was also one of the smaller ones out of the group.

Today we got called out to help catch a mother duck. All but one of her ducklings had already been captured by the residents. These ducks had, like many do, made the backyard and pool their home. The Chlorine is pools is actually toxic to ducks so it’s really not the best place for them.

The plan was to capture mother duck and her last duckling, gather them all together and relocate them. However, as I know from experience, the mother is always the trickiest to catch. Unfortunately, the capturing of the family had been done the wrong way around. To capture a duck and her young, you catch the MOTHER FIRST, and then the ducklings. This way, mother isn’t as likely to freak and fly away. She will stay with her young. Then, when RELEASING them again, you let the DUCKLINGS go FIRST and then the mother. If you let her go first, she may fly away out of fright and you’ll be left with the ducklings.

Of course, it is much easier said than done. Though ducklings are fast, tricky and- bouncy, they are easier to catch than the adults. Adults can fly, ducklings cannot; therefore they are easier to corner and catch. Unfortunately, in this case, the ducklings had been caught first, and they were already in a box and feeling stressed. The mother was also stressed, suspicious, but hanging around, not wanting to leave her clutch. We tried catching her, but it’s not easy. Becoming frightened she merely flew over our heads before we could get close enough, went back into the pool or squeezed under the gaps in the pool fences. She even flew into a window a couple of times. Fearing she was going to get injured in some way, or become too stressed; and fear for the already stressed ducklings in the box, we had no other choice but to make the hard decision to take the ducklings and leave mother behind. It was hard to take the ducklings with mother following behind, following the calls of her young. If there had been a pond, lake or creek within walking distance, we would have walked the ducklings there (with mother follwing) and then released them- but we couldn’t. The ducklings had to take priority. The nine of them are here now. Mother duck will be ok. She may wander around looking for them, but soon she will leave- and perhaps even come back to have another clutch.

Right now I’m a little more concerned about the ducklings. They seem physically healthy, but one in particular has not been quiet all day. They want their mother, but it’s just not possible. They will be ok, I just hope they sleep tonight! They are so small; we think they either hatched out yesterday or this morning. It has been quite a stressful time for them. I just wish there was some way that I could tell them that it’s ok; I wish there had been some way to tell the mother that we were trying to help.

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Today I got called out to rescue a duck that had flown through a window and into a shed. The woman who lived there told us that the window was already cracked; however, the duck must’ve been flying pretty fast to actually fly through the glass.

Both my mum and myself were worried that we’d find a duck covered in blood with broken bones, but we didn’t. The duck (I still don’t know whether male or female) was an adult Pacific Black Duck, and was walking around the shed quite calmy. Though, as soon as he/ she saw us come into the shed with towels and a cage he/ she tried flying, crashing into the wall.

Perhaps five or ten minutes minutes later, I had the duck in my arms (though he/ she wriggled out of the towel I had thrown around it) and managed to get him/ her into the cage. We couldn’t see any blood or immediate signs of injury so we took the duck back home for some quiet time, so he/ she could calm down.

After that it was a visit to the Vet, where it was very good news indeed. Actually, it was the news I was hoping to hear. A clean bill of health! (Pun not intended).

The lucky duck was then released into the closest body of water to where he/ she was found, and mingled in with the other Pacific Blacks. I love these successful rescues! 😀

Just a quick update on the magpie currently in my care. He (I say ‘he’ but could be a ‘she’) is eating well, so well he actually ate a large chunk of carrot that was in the dish with the mealworms I got him a couple of days ago. The carrot was meant for the mealworms, and I was worried he was having some difficulty swallowing it properly. He grabbed it just as I noticed it in the dish. Ah, well, he’s ok and is currently asking for more food *sigh* LOL

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I am being kept busy today! Had just finished writing the above when we got called out yet again. This time it was to pick up three Magpie chicks. The man had found them on that stormy day (Saturday?) on the footpath, their nest on the road. Today they had a Vet check at the RSPCA before we were called to come pick them up.

The man looking after them looked up what to feed them on the internet (What would we do without Google?) and had been looking after them since he found them, but as he is busy with work he will find it hard to find the time to look after the Magpies as they get older and need to be taught to learn how to forage for  themselves. However, he has done a very good job! 🙂

It seems, however, that the oldest of the three would be from another nest, as Magpies only have up to two chicks at one time and not three. We can only guess how the third was found with the younger two. It’s quite possible that his nest, too, was blown out of the tree, or he was blown or fell out of his nest, or perhaps his tree came down. We won’t know for sure. What is important is that these three are cuddling together and will now stay together. 🙂

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