Saturday, June 16, 2012

What would a wood duck do?

Every morning, I take my newspaper and a big mug of coffee out onto the patio to read in the peaceful quiet. My three kitties come outside with me and do a "grounds check" to see what intruders may have passed through during the night. They check out the shrubs and trees but don't go farther than the wooded lot next door. (I admit, disabuse them of wandering with a squirt bottle.) 

They often sprawl under the huge pine trees across the yard. I looked up from my paper to see Sunny chasing something over there. I assumed it was his usual prey--a dragonfly or moth. After a few minutes, I saw him pick up something in his mouth that was much larger. He then dashed toward the patio and I saw  he had a baby duck hanging headfirst out of his mouth. I was shocked and alarmed. I jumped up to take it from him and he ran away (of course!).

I was able to chase him into the house with the other two cats close behind. Once cornered, Sunny released his prey--first one tiny wood duck--and then a second one! The two terrified little ducks took off running in different directions with the cats in close pursuit. One was weaving among the legs of the dining room chairs while the other ran behind the couch. Since the biggest threat was the cats, I set about rounding them up and locking them in the bedroom.
                                    (Sunny relaxing)
Next, I had to catch the little ducks who were amazingly fast and energetic, especially since they don't appear to be more than a few days old. I finally captured each of them by dropping a towel over them. I found a deep box and put them inside. They seemed unhurt despite Sunny's attempts to keep them in his jaws. I laid the towel over them to calm them and they became still. 

I walked over to the pine trees where Sunny found the ducklings but there was no trace of other ducks and no sign of a nest. I decided they probably got lost and wandered there--maybe after the bad storm of a few days ago.

After the excitement, I was too restless to finish reading the paper, so I decided to go over to Curves and do my workout. To make sure the cats couldn't get at the baby ducks, I set the box on top of the refrigerator and set stuff on the counter to keep the cats from jumping up there. I then let the cats out of the bedroom. Everything seemed secure, so I left.

When I came back an hour later, I walked in the door to see a duckling running across the living room cheeping loudly. The other duckling was running down the hall to the bedroom. Sunny, Gracie and Tweedy were all lying nonchalantly on the floor watching this mayhem with mild interest

I was stunned! How had they jumped out of the box and off the refrigerator with their tiny little legs? And how were they running around unmolested by the cats?

I proceeded to round up the ducklings with a towel again, and this time, I deposited them in the bathtub and closed the door. I went on Google to find out how to take care of baby wood ducks. If the wealth of information available online is any indication, it's not that uncommon to find little ones. I learned that if they're cheeping, that means they're cold--so I put a heating pad set on low in the tub. They crawled on top and snuggled together. I gave them a straight-sided shallow pan for water and finely chopped some lettuce, a strawberry and walnuts for food.

I'm pondering what to do next. I'm thinking of keeping them until they're a little bigger and taking them to a pond. At the moment, one of them is running around in the bathtub cheeping loudly while the other is quietly resting on the heating pad. I'm concerned it may have been injured. I would welcome any advice from any of you duckling lovers

                   RIP Little Darlings

14 comments:

Joanne said...

Well, for a quiet life you sure can stirr up some exciting action. I have no advice on the ducks, but I do wish you good luck.

Haddock said...

That was interesting to read. It is only when one encounters such things that one learns about them. Did you actually photograph them jumping?

Ms Sparrow said...

Joanne: Thanks for the support. Sadly, one of the ducklings died during the night. I'll keep posting on the other one's progress.

Haddock: I am not good at taking pictures. All the photos were borrowed from Google Images.

Linda said...

I am sorry to hear one of the ducklings died. I hope this story has a happy ending. I love your photos.

Elaine said...

Ms Sparrow I salute you for your sterling efforts to save them and care for them. I know nothing about their care, but I do have my fingers crossed for the other little one. How on earth did Sunny manage to get two in his mouth at the same time?

Ms Sparrow said...

Linda: The other duckling died just a little while ago. I'm not sure if it was from injuries or stress, but I feel bad about it.

Elaine: In spite of it all, they both died. My oldest granddaughter, Lindy, once raised a duckling to maturity so it can be done--if there are no cats involved. I was shocked when Sunny dropped the two babies but he's a pretty big cat and the ducklings were very small.

Meggie said...

Maybe they were injured when they jumped out of the box.....I'm sure stress played a big part!

Sparrow chic said...

Ms Sparrow, Lindys wood duck Squirt, lived in the house and had a heatlamp in a corner of the front room. She fed her duckmeal she bought at the elevator. Alas, it was that very same duckmeal that choked her to death. They have a pond in the backyard, so Squirt got to go swimming too.

Linda Starr said...

So sorry about the ducklings, they were so cute, but you did your best.

Ms Sparrow said...

Meggie: I will have to settle for following other blogger's duckling photos online.

Chic: It's a wonder that those vulnerable little chicks ever survive to adulthood, isn't it?

Linda: Thanks, after raising four kids I have a lot of background in "rescued" animals. It rarely turns out very well.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Oh, so sorry they didn't make it. You certainly did what you could. My understanding is it's very difficult to save birds (I would imagine it's the same for ducks) that have been grabbed by cats. The bacteria usually takes them. From the looks of it, Sunny is undernourished. Maybe if he better fed, he wouldn't have been interested. HA!

Mitchell is Moving said...

Oh, so sorry they didn't make it. You certainly did what you could. My understanding is it's very difficult to save birds (I would imagine it's the same for ducks) that have been grabbed by cats. The bacteria usually takes them. From the looks of it, Sunny is undernourished. Maybe if he better fed, he wouldn't have been interested. HA!

Ms Sparrow said...

Mitch: Sunny is a big boy (think Maine Coon-size)and quite well-fed. The two girls are dainty eaters so Sunny cleans up everything they don't eat. We have dried food available for Gracie and Tweedy to knosh, so it's really hard to put Sunny on a diet!

Knatolee said...

I am sorry I am so behind on blog reading and missed this!! Sorry to hear the ducklings died. It's possible they had some injury you couldn't see. Anyway, I'm glad you gave it a shot!