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Next thing I knew, the duck was mine

Yesterday afternoon I walked right into an unfolding crisis on Fisher Avenue.

The scene, as I approached, involved a man stopping rush-hour traffic while he retrieved an injured duck from the middle of the road. She and her mate had been paddling in a puddle, when a woman passing by with a dog startled them, and they rose to fly across Fisher. Unfortunately, she didn’t rise high enough, and was smacked by the windshield of a passing car. (Which, incidentally, did not stop.)

The man was holding the duck while the woman with the dog called the Humane Society. The duck had a broken leg and was bleeding a little, but looked okay otherwise.  The male duck was standing about 20 feet away, looking forlorn. (Or perhaps I just imagined he was looking forlorn.)

I asked if I could  help. And that’s how I ended up with the duck.

She was a lovely duck. Soft and beautiful, with gentle eyes and a bill that looked like it was smiling slightly. I sat on the side of Fisher Avenue with her on my lap, and waited for GC to drive us to the Wild Bird Care Centre.

I felt terrible about leaving her mate alone, but I couldn’t figure out how to lure a perfectly healthy mallard duck into a car with a part-Nova Scotia Duck Toller in it, so we had to leave him behind.

The duck and I got into the car. It’s not every day Rosie gets to see a bleeding duck up close, and she was intrigued. We decided that the best course of action would be to drop Rosie off at my place before going to the Wild Bird Care Centre.

Then GC asked why her neck was hanging over my arm like that, and I said oh, she does that,  she’s just resting.

And resting.

And resting.

And…eternally resting.

I was very surprised. I honestly didn’t expect her to die. If I’d known she was going to die, I would have left her with at least the comfort of her mate, instead of subjecting her to the stress of  a car ride and a Nova Scotia Duck Toller. Maybe that’s what pushed her over the edge. Maybe being separated from her mate while injured was more than she could bear. (Am I anthropomorphizing here?)

At any rate, I had a dead duck in my arms and I felt very sad. We took her body back to her mate. I figured at least he could get some closure, maybe it would help him move on with his life, and he wouldn’t have to wait for her on the edge of Fisher Avenue forever. I laid her body down, still soft and warm, on a patch of grass near him, and walked back to the car. I turned back and saw a teenager trying to mow down the male duck with his bike. That’s when I started crying.

As soon as I got home, I had a shower to wash off the blood and the little green duck bugs,  and I threw all my clothes in the washing machine. I woke up at 3:00 this morning and worried about the possibility of having transmitted some wild bird germs to my parrots. You have to be careful about stuff like that.

Don’t you wish this story had a happy ending?

17 comments to Next thing I knew, the duck was mine

  • Linda Anne

    Zoom – I am so sorry that you had to go through that. It must have been terribile, feeling so helpless, but at least you tried, which is more than most would do. Also, you allowed, hopefully, for the male to be able to say good bye to his mate. We had a situation years ago where a female duck was hit by a car at the end of our street. We saw them on the way to work and the male would not leave her body. We were afraid for him and called the city. We were one of many who did, and they came and collected the female. The male hung around for quite some time and for many years he came back with the other couple that they used to arrive with each year. They used to swim in our pool. We now only see the one couple, so we assume he has now joined his mate.

    Cheers – Linda Anne

  • Kathleen

    Oh my Zoom, my heart goes out to you and that duck. What a wonderful, selfless thing to do. You are truly a special person. That duck was lucky to have you rescue her. She probably had more internal injuries than you thought she had. I am glad that she died in your arms, in the warm embrace of a caring and loving person, as yourself. There are not many people who would care enough to get involved in this situation. Just think if you were at work, you would not have been there help this poor, unfortunate creature. You are my hero Zoom.

    • GC

      She’s not THAT good Kathleen… but she IS pretty special!!

    • You’re too kind Kathleen!
      I’m not sure my arms would have been a duck’s first choice as a place to die, and if I’d known she was dying, I’d have left her with her mate. But given the situation and the facts as I knew them, I’d probably do the same thing again. (You would too, right?)

  • Murt

    We had kind of an opposite experience the other day. Pugsley brought a baby sparrow into the house. We retrieved him and set him outside where he’d be safe. He was full of mites too. At that point he wasn’t flying yet. I don’t remember if it was that day or the next day the little guy appeared on one of the patio chairs, flying of course, looked at us standing there right by him as if to say thanks for saving me and then flew away. It was nice.

  • Oh, zoom. That is a sad but still beautiful story. Sometimes we try our best to help and we don’t get that happy ending. But I am happy that you tried. It still matters.

  • I do. One can try to do the best for another, and sometimes we’re gratified by it working. Glad the mallard could get closure.

  • future landfill

    The two robins who built a nest in the porch rafters were dive-bombing it a couple of hours ago. Then one of the resident red squirrels emerged with an egg in his jaws. I threw a stick at him and called him a little bastard but he just scampered off to a branch and had his lunch. Felt pretty bad for birdies but at least there were no automobiles or stupid kids involved. Can’t say the same for some turtle carcasses on the roads these days.

    Won’t the critters be pleased when the world goes ass-over-teakettle and we humans go the way of the dinosaurs…

    • I think of that often, FL. About how the only way the human race is likely to save the world is through self-destruction, and while it might be too bad for us, it will be better for all the others.

      I’m sorry about your robins. But the season is early, and they’ll lay more eggs.

  • Connie

    Oh no.. You have such a tender heart, critters should live when you rescue them! I’m imagining the beginning to a country song here, though. “oh I lost my job workin for the tax man, my duck died and left me with mites…….

  • I love your song Connie! Thanks!

  • Julia

    Oh dear. They are tough yet fragile little things. So sad.