May 20, 2018

Mallard hen and ducklings escorted to safety

By Deanna Barth

Earlier this week, I was contacted by a homeowner who had discovered a mallard duck and five little ducklings in her pool, which is not an uncommon occurrence, this time of year. 

Mallard hens seek out safe places to nest, and this particular backyard provided, not only a water source, but shelter from predators and mallard drakes. 

Unfortunately, a situation like this - a swimming pool and enclosed backyard, was not a suitable place for the wild duck family to stay. Keeping them there and feeding them was not an option. They might become habituated to people. 

For the well-being of the ducks, they needed to be returned to their natural habitat. 

Typically, we would open the gate to allow the hen and ducklings to leave on their own, or gently herd them a certain direction. 

Instinctively, the hen wants to lead her babies to the closest body of water - one that she has spied from her flights. The closest body of water, however, was across a busy highway. This would not only be dangerous for the ducks, but also to drivers, as the ducks could potentially cause a traffic collision. 

Most wild birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and wildlife in our state is protected by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This duck family could not be captured and moved to a safer location without prior authorization.

WES has a permit that allows us to move migratory birds that are either in imminent danger or may pose a threat to human safety. We also called our local game warden for his opinion. 

It was decided - we would capture the duck family and escort them across the highway to the closest pond. For anyone who has worked with mallards, you know it's not easy to capture a flighted adult. This was definitely a two-person job.

This morning, WES' founder, Rebecca Dmytryk, met me at the residence to assist in capturing the duck family. 

After observing their behavior, we made a plan to contain the ducklings first, then capture the hen by luring her with the ducklings.

We used long-handled dip nets to gently scoop the ducklings from the pool, then we set them next to a drop trap.

A drop trap, described in Rebecca's book Wildlife Search and Rescue: A Guide to First Responders, is the simplest and safest way to catch an adult mallard. Check out the video below to see how it works. 

Once we had the mother contained in a separate carrier for safety, we drove to the pond.

It's important for the babies to be let go first, in an open area where the mother can see and hear them.

All went as planned. A happy reunion!

May 19, 2018

5 Snakes Caught in Garden Netting

There are no warning labels. Nothing to prepare the consumer for what might happen if garden netting is used in a natural setting.

This is what can happen.

Today, WES responders received a call about 5 gopher snakes entangled in garden netting that was placed to protect the base of saplings. 

Four of the snakes were rescued alive, the fifth was dead when we arrived.

Watch the video below.

May 3, 2018

Young lady save baby bird

By Deanna Barth

I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely young lady today because of her desire to help a baby bird. 

After speaking with dad over the phone and determining that the bird was a healthy fledgling, we met on school campus so Alexa could show me exactly where she found it. 

As we were walking towards the area, the parent Starlings flew from their nest in the corner of the roof. 

I explained that the saying, “If you touch a baby bird the parents will abandon it,” is a myth. So she gently tucked it inside the bushes beneath the nest. 

We also discussed that there would soon be more fledglings hopping around the playground and that it would be her job to educate her teachers and fellow students to leave them be. 

I applaud her for her concern and willingness to help this little one today. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the next generation display compassion for all living things. 

Great job Alexa!!!