Our summer has been filled with hundreds of patients. Many are babies that are growing up quickly, however injured birds of all species continue to be admitted too.
Our work reflects what is happening with wildlife in our region. Sometimes weather affects reproduction of some species, both in positive and negative ways.
Every summer we care for some ducklings, however this summer has been a banner year for mallard, wood ducks and even a hooded merganser chick. ducklings. Never have we felt closer to the book by Robert McCloskey, “Make Way for Ducklings”. It seems we have ducklings in every nook and cranny not already filled with other species. Finding space in our clinic is a constant problem, but this year, well it’s worse than ever. (Stay tuned for news on our new clinic fund raiser coming soon)
Many of the ducklings come in as single babies that have run into trouble having been lost from their family, often after being chased after by an enthusiastic child or family dog. Often, they are injured by those same children or dogs and require medical care. Sadly, this year we had several cases of the mother duck being hit by a car, purposely in at least two cases, leaving the new hatched ducklings orphans. Sometimes ducklings just need our help to provide a safe place, good food, care and a foster parent of their species so they can grow up perfect little wild ducks that can be released to the wild.
Ducks are not as easy to care for as it may seem. Where as mallards have a diet that includes grains as they reach adulthood, wood ducks and mergansers eat insects, aquatic invertebrates as well as minnows. Providing food for the ducklings is a challenge both in cost to us as well as securing the massive amounts of insects that it takes to keep the little ones well nourished. Our interns are kept busy “fishing” for wild duck weed, digging worms and otherwise finding sources of insects. Sometimes we feel like crazed “parents” as we panic when we are low on insects. We are so grateful to our generous friends that send donations of mealworms, both alive and dried, Jada Baits in Antigo that provides us with their cast-off worms and R.J.Hilger’s and Sons Bait in Antigo that help us with minnows. If anyone out there grows red worms! We have a home for as many as you can grow.
Thank you to all the great folks that found, rescued and transported little ducklings and geese and of course all our other patients to REGI this month. Your babies are doing well. We had very few mortalities in the ducks and baby birds this year, even in those with injuries.
Today we our Facebook page to ducklings, geese and waterfowl. Please enjoy their photos of when they arrived, and as they grow. They will not be released until they have feathers and are flying. That means they will be with us until they are at least six weeks old.