Oy: another duckling rescue!

July 11, 2021 • 3:00 pm

This time I rescued two newborn ducklings, but circumstances were different from what happened two days ago.

At feeding time this afternoon, we noticed a huge fracas in the pond: Coco had abandoned her babies and was attacking something. It turned out to be a tiny, one-day-old duckling whose mother had brought it and one other sibling to the pond.  It was one of the most vicious duck attacks I’ve ever seen, and I knew I had to do something to stop it. (Coco is a most aggressive duck.)

Coco and the other ducks had driven the mother away, and the two ducklings, frantically swimming around and peeping, stood no chance of living were they to be left with mom.  One, exhausted, finally lay almost unconscious in the mud, while the other kept swimming, all the while with their mother quacking frantically for them across the pond.

There was nothing to do but rescue the two babies, who were in the main pond, and remove them from their mother, for catching her was impossible. I didn’t want to go into the water again, but this time i didn’t have to. I picked up the one exhausted duckling from the mud, and managed to catch the other in my fly net as it swam along the edge of the pond.

As soon as we had both, we carefully dried them off with paper towels and tissues, and I put them by the space heater in my office to warm up and dry off. They soon became more lively and vigorous, almost jumping out of the big box.

We then drove them to the nice rehab lady in Hyde Park, and she said they’ll be taken to the Willowbrook Wildlife Sanctuary tomorrow morning. They looked to be in pretty good shape despite the near drowning of one.

As I walked past the pond to my car, I saw the mother of the two swimming around frantically, quacking for her lost babies. That broke my heart—that is what Dorothy did after Honey kidnapped her babies last year. And Dorothy hung around quacking for a week before she accepted her fate (and re-nested). There’s no sadder sound than a mother hen calling to her lost babies.

But we had no choice: had we not removed the babies from the pond and from their mom, they wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes. It is a bittersweet ending, but at least the two have a chance at life. It is that, more than the sadness of the mother, that matters most.

Other news: the six that I rescued two days ago all survived their first night in good shape, and are safely ensconced at Willowbrook.

Here are the two we just saved:

I could use a little less drama at the pond. It’s physically demanding and emotionally draining.

12 thoughts on “Oy: another duckling rescue!

  1. Look at those little fluffy things! Jerry, if karma were a real thing, you’d be the first karma-trillionaire in history.

    1. Agreed. I realized duck hens were mean to another hens ducklings but the happenings at the pond are beyond what I understood. What an eye opener into nature. Reminded me of the quote from Thomas Huxley, “Nature is too cruel to serve as our moral guide”. TNX to Jerry for the rescue and reporting.

  2. Years ago when I was a wanna be hippy homesteader I had a flock of Khaki Campbells. Got em when they were just wee little bitty ducklings. Watched em grow up to be great big quackers. Sure did love those ducks. (and my chickens, and my goats, and my garden and my dreams now left behind) My days are growing dim and all that remains is the nostalgia. C’est la vie

  3. Dang, dude, seems Botany Pond is rapidly become a halfway house to the Hyde Park rehab (and thence to the Willowbrook Wildlife Sanctuary).

    1. Nature red in tooth, claw and bill on the University of Chicago campus amidst the splendor of its Victorian Gothic architecture… not what you would have expected, eh?

  4. I swear, if ducks had TV, Life in the Pond would be their longest-running soap opera. You’re doing The Lord’s work, Jerry!

    (Just kidding about “the Lord” 😛 But seriously, great job)

  5. It’s so sad for the poor mother when this happens, but it’s wonderful that you saved her ducklings. I wish it was possible for them to be reunited somehow. 🙁

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