I need some help...

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I need some help...

Postby Quentin on Sat May 26, 2012 5:49 pm

Hi all

Today I was @ David Bergey Pond... came across quite a few turtles... two digging up earth... time to lay eggs I guess.

Anyway... I came across a couple... at 1st I thought they were trying to release something into the water that they shouldn't be... turtle bought at a pet store or a gold fish... as it turns out this couple had a young duckling with them.

It seems a several weeks ago they came across a baby duckling all alone & rescued it. Now they want to release it... they kept it in the house... now it is about 10 inches tall... ...

Of course when they place it in the water & try to leave the duck comes running after them. Very sad... they have a young daughter I'd say about 4, maybe 5...

Does anyone out there know of an organization that will help re-introduce this duckling back into the wild. I've searched the net, can find nothing. This couple has talked with the Humane Society... they refused to take it; they were told to contact Agriculture Canada who told them to contact Environment Canada & so on.

It's heart breaking for them (me too at this point).. I fear if the duckling runs after them it will not do well if they just put it in the water & run for it. It's been brought up on starter meal from a commercial farmer of domestic ducks... so it doesn't know how to feed as the wild ducklings naturally do. I've tried to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in our area on the net... but none are listed. From what I have also researched a mother mallard will often kill orphan ducklings if they come close to their own brood.

I thought of Greenbrook as it has a large population of ducks, however it also has a lot of locals visiting & feeding the ducks... if released there someone will obviously note it's attracton to humans & pick it up.... taking it home.. or some child may injure it.

Ideas anyone? Anybody know of a rehabilitator... even if within an hour or so drive?
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Re: I need some help...

Postby BirderGuelph on Sat May 26, 2012 6:41 pm

Here is an e-mail address for Ducks Unlimited Canada general inquiries: webfoot@ducks.ca

They may be able to give you advice on what to do. My fiance found duck eggs in a parking lot and they gave her advice on how to handle it. Hope this helps.
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Re: I need some help...

Postby kellie on Sun May 27, 2012 10:40 am

Hi Quentin,

The problem here is that even if brought to a wildlife rehabber, this duckling has little chance of being releasable; in fact, I would say it has no chance. It has gone through what is called "human imprinting"—this is when a young animal of any kind comes to recognize humans as its caregiver from a very young age, and not its own kind. There is no way of reversing this; as it happens at a key developmental stage of a young animal's life. Essentially, the duckling no longer recognizes other Mallards as its kind; it thinks it's a human.

If you are still in contact with these people, although well-intentioned, please urge them to NEVER do this again. Not only it is against the law to keep native wildlife (except for a 24 hour window while you transfer it to a certified wildlife rehabilitator), trying to take care of an orphaned young animal with no professional training means that this bird will never be releasable.

The best way to help a duckling or gosling that has lost its family is to try to re-find its family. Ducks and geese are terrible counters. They routinely lose young because they get entangled in grass, left behind, etc., and the adults don't realize they've left one (or two or more!) behind unless they can hear it crying, which may be too late by then if they're far away. Another way to help an orphaned duckling or gosling is to try to find any family of ducklings or goslings (respectively) and try to get the little one to swim over there. Even if there is a slight size difference, again, ducks and geese are horrible counters; they almost always adopt the orphan into their own family. At worst, the potential adoptive family may swim away, but they wouldn't kill the orphan. I'm not sure where you read the part about killing orphans, but it's not true.

Anyway, my suggestion for contact would be this:
  • Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary—located in Essex county, they have a holding for non-releasable (injured, etc.) waterfowl, but I'm not sure what the process is for having a bird taken in there
  • Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation—located near London, Ontario, they may be able to offer additional advice on where to take the duckling. You can also pass along more info to these people from their extensive website on what to do when an orphaned duckling/gosling is found (about half-way down the webpage).
  • SOAR (Songbirds Only Avian Rehabilitation), 519–856–4510, Rockwood, Ontario—If you can't get in contact with Salthaven, you may be able to seek advice from SOAR.

There are two wildlife rehabbers in Waterloo, but they do not permanently keep non-releasable waterfowl, so I'm unsure if they'd be any help. They're very busy this time of year, imaginably, so I'm hesitant to post their contact info.

Hope this helps!
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Re: I need some help...

Postby Karen on Sun May 27, 2012 4:36 pm

Quentin...call me as I have the phone number of a local wildlife rehab person who has helped me...
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Re: I need some help... (Thank you for the contacts)

Postby Quentin on Sun May 27, 2012 6:13 pm

Thank you all for your help. Through much searching, following leads.. I was able to locate a rehabilitator who specializes in orphan ducks. I also had the opportunity to exchange emails with Brian Salt of Salthaven last night; unfortunately he was not able to help out but gave some very good advise. This morning(through various leads) I was able to reach someone who works with ducks & I have put the family in contact with them. Despite the imprinting (that was addressed)... lets hope for the best of all outcomes for this little guy. Myself... I just feel better knowing he is no longer going to be released just to die.
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