Duckling jerking head, really strange movements!


In the Brooder
8 Years
Apr 3, 2011
So we've been watching this Muscovy duck family behind my apartment for a long time, today while walking our dogs my boyfriend saw two boys poking at the smallest ducking who was on the water. My bf went to look and the ducking was making really weird jerky head movements, I've never seen this before. He brought him back to see if we could do anything for it. I'm not sure if it was the boys or the past couple days we've noticed a ton of dead fish in the bayou these guys live in. I've tried to attach a video, has anyone seen this before?
[VIDEO][/VIDEO] Uploads/20160806_113750_zpsyzyp166j.mp4
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This is so heartbreaking to see. You did a good thing getting him out of there. I kind of highly doubt the boys did this to it, maybe they were just as interesting in its strange movements. This looks neurological to me- nervous system. Could be anything where hit in the head to poisoning to just not developing int eh egg correctly due to a pathogen.

Is it like this all the time?

It almost looks like it is having seizures. Are there any moments in which it is not like this? Is it able to rest without having jerky movements awaken it?

The fact that there are a lot of dead fish in the area that you found this probably has a lot to do with it. Are there any chemical spills nearby? People illegally dumping?

My thoughts would be to keep it calm, feed it some vitamins- something for poultry- I am not a duck person, so hopefully someone who is can chime in right away.

Is it eating food for you?

I imagine it is probably very traumatized by everything. I would also suggest maybe taking it to a vet. Be sure and keep it warm.
Oh my.. forgot to ask... Was there an abundance of algae in the area? Could be algae poisoning... I don't know what the remedy for that is, but surely there is. Was it like this before.. or just today?

I have heard in the news some places down south (usa) are having problems with algal blooms lately.
I've read a bit... it does sound like algae poisoning.. . I have also read that it will need veterinary care to get over it and that time is of the essence. Sounds like they could also give it a charcoal (activated? I assume) slurry to help it. If you can't find a vet open today, try animal rehabilitaors in your area.. they might be able to help too.

does it seem anything like this....
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Sadly I found this too:

Duck Virus hepatitis
Duck virus hepatitis is a highly fatal contagious disease of young ducklings, 1-28 days of age. Ducklings are most susceptible at the younger ages and gradually become more resistant as they grow older. The disease is rarely seen in ducklings over 4 weeks of age. The onset of the disease is very rapid, it spreads quickly through the flock and may cause up to 90% mortality. Sick ducklings develop spasmodic contractions of their legs and die within an hour in a typical "arched-backward" position. The liver is enlarged and shows hemorrhagic spots. To prevent this disease, keep age groups isolated and vaccinate breeder ducks with an attenuated live virus duck hepatitis vaccine (to produce maternally immune ducklings).

from <- link has more common duck ailments with a list of symptoms

not sure if this could be it either, but just thought I'd post it just in case.

Please keep us informed here. Thank you too for the video.
Well I was going to take him to a vet when I got off work but when I got home about an hour and a half ago he had passed away. Poor little guy, I'll have to keep an eye on the remaining to see if they show any signs. I'm wondering if it was the algae thing, we live on the coast and this little family lives in a brackish bayou.

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