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Duck Under Ice... A rescue story

 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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So yesterday I went out to do my afternoon chores, and since everything else has been frozen I've been getting my water from the settling pond where the ducks hang out. The pond has been frozen over for a few weeks which prevents the ducks from swimming. Instead they have to drink from the trickle of water that constantly streams by their front door. When I arrived at the pond I counted the ducks like I always do ... 5. OK where's the other duck?
Then I noticed a little black body under the ice. Somehow she got in under the ice and got stuck. I smashed the ice over top of her and pulled her out. She was limp but warm. I placed her down on the snow next to me and rubbed her belly for a second. Then I heard her exhale. She had been holding her breath for who the hell knows how long.
I just went into action I guess. I opened up her bill and listened to her breathing. She was weakly breathing but limp otherwise. I gave her a good vigorous wake up rub. Just like waking up somebody who's passed out. I figured I'd be eating duck this week because she looked just awful. I just kept at it for a few minutes I guess and slowly but surely she began to breath a little deeper. The dead look faded from her eyes and she put her wings out flat like she wanted to get up but she was in no shape to move. I grabbed her by the feet and held her upside down to drain any water that might be in her system. Nothing came out but it seemed to stimulate her a bit. It probably helped get some good fresh blood into her head. From that point forward I thought we had a chance to make a recovery so I took her up to the house and wrapped her in a towel. I continued massaging her while drying her off. ( like ducks get wet right?) After about five minutes she seemed like she might stand up so I put her down on the porch. She stood for a second and then just kinda sat back down exhausted. This particular duck is not a "people person" so I'm sure she'd like to get away from me ASAP. I used that as a metric of vigor. After another five minutes or so she was visibly upset by being separate from the flock so I took her back to the pond and set her down. She took some wobbly steps to the coop door then sat down in the sun. The other ducks were happy to have her back too. I checked on her every 20 minutes or so for the rest of the day and each time she looked a little more "with it". I shut them up last night confident that she'd be with us in the morning.
I just finished morning chores and she's happily sitting in a little puddle as if nothing happened.
That's one seriously lucky duck. I don't know how long she was under the ice but between her breath holding ability and my ability to count to 6, we both had a much better day.

I knew that first aid training could save lives but this is not what I had imagined.
 
Kat Green
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I love happy endings! Thank you for being so caring.
 
Julia Winter
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Wow! What a story! When I saw your reference in the other thread, I figured she got her feet caught in ice, not that she was somehow under the surface of the ice.

I'm glad you're keeping all your ducks in a row! (tee hee.)
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
Posts: 1250
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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It was quite a situation. Ducks like to "drill" in the muddy edges of the pond so I imagine that she (with help from the others) made a big enough gap between the edge of the pond and the ice, which was enough to slip through. Since that day I've been very careful to limit their pond access to days when things like that aren't likely to happen again. It's that time of year here where the pond is slightly frozen in the morning and thawed out by 10 am or so. I've been keeping the ducks cooped up until there is enough escape routes from the ice. I've been known to go out there with a sledge hammer to assist the break up on certain days. The ducks always look sad without a pond.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 245
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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i used to keep geese. we had 5 chinese goslings. i found a old tub for them to swim in. it was so slippery they couldn't get out so i put a piece of old carpet to help them climb out. they would dive then pop back to the surface. a few days later , as i was passing by their pen, the goslings were crying out as if attacked. upon looking in the pen, i only saw 4 frantic birds. looking in the tub. i saw a gossling under the water tangled in string that frayed off the carpet. i quickly pulled him out. he was listless and i thought he was dead. there was no breathing so i hung him upside down and shook him several times. some water came out his nostrils and he started to breathe. took him about a hr. to start to move again but he was fine after that. his siblings were relieved! these geese were pets so it would have been a sad day for my kids. i could see how waterfowl could get stuck under ice esp. when they dive. that was one lucky bird!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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