Jan 5, 2016

Duck Down

By Deanna Barth


Today, I received a direct call from a woman named Rhonna whom I’d met a few months ago when she found a downed falcon near her property. This time she was calling about a duck. 

On Tuesday afternoon, she had just let her dog outside when she noticed a mallard sitting on the pond in the distance. She watched as her Labrador Retriever sprinted across the ground towards the drake and expected the duck to take to the sky, but it didn’t. Instead, it sat motionless as the dog gently scooped it up and carried it back and placed it at her feet. 

She didn’t see any obvious injuries but thought it odd that it hadn’t flown away, so she placed it in a small enclosure. The area was about 15 feet across, with a small Koi pond, dense shrubs to hide beneath and surrounded by a short fence. She figured the duck could rest here where it would be less vulnerable to predators while still being able to fly away at any time - if it could. 

The next morning she was surprised to see the duck still there. She waited most of the day, thinking it would leave, but by the afternoon, she called me to come take a look. 

The duck was resting beneath the bushes next to the fence. Rhonna suggested I walk right up to it and pick it up. I hesitated. One thing I’ve learned, when a rescue looks that easy, it won’t be! 

Based on its behavior, I thought it might not be capable of flying, which meant it would be even more anxious to run away from me and head for open space, so I needed to cut off its exits. 

Can you make out the duck?


I placed my daughter on one side of the bushes, holding an open sheet and Rhonna on the other side in the same position. Knowing the duck would then head towards the water, I approached with my net, carefully walking along the edge of the pond. 

It worked perfectly. But just as I moved my net into position, the handle became caught on a tree branch and threw me off balance. As I attempted to regain my footing on the slippery pond edge, I fell in. I was shocked to find that it was 5 foot deep - I was submerged up to my shoulders! 

On this cold and rainy day, to say I was chilled would be an understatement - but I still needed to get the duck!  

I quickly got back up and herded the drake towards the fence, this time being careful to not get my net stuck. Success - we got him!  

After a change of clothes, we transported the mallard to the SPCA for Monterey County wildlife center for care.  

UPDATE 1-6-2016

I called for an update and it was confirmed that the duck had no injuries but he was quite ill and unwilling to eat. They would start tube feeding and providing supportive care. 

Hopefully he will continue to improve. Stay tuned!








UPDATE: 1-10-16

Apparently the duck made a full recovery and was released today!



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