Update time, just over 9 weeks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by enriquec, Nov 13, 2014.

  1. enriquec

    enriquec Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2014
    North Florida
    Hey guys,

    I've been updating and posting less than planned. I'm still bummed about the disappearance of duck #13 about four weeks ago..

    Ducks can naturally be wild, but a lot of humans domesticate them. Some owners allow them to free range. I wanted to 'teach' mine to free range. In my mind, it seemed safer than allowing them to figure it out completely on their own.

    Some of this is old news, so I'll do a "short version" recap. Skip to the new stuff if this is old news:
    Against the advice of others, I started before six weeks of age. I spent a LOT of time with them outside from about 1-4ish weeks, teaching them as best a momma duck I could. Exploring, swimming, food sources, etc. At about 3.5 weeks, I gradually started giving them small amounts of alone time, and increasing the amount. Usually, I was still around, but out of their sight.

    By about 4.5 weeks they were spending 4+ hours 'truly' alone. Meaning, I would not check on them for hours. I would be inside, or away from home very briefly. Everything seemed to be going well. One downside was, I was being treated differently. They were not following me, listening to me, etc. I wanted them less dependent. But it broke my heart when they formed a flock, and I wasn't part of it. This started happening after 3.5 weeks. I would then spend more time with them and the effects would reverse until they had more alone time again.

    Note: At about 3 weeks, they started living outdoors in my greenhouse. By about 3.5 weeks, I had them trained to go into the greenhouse on their own when the sun went down.

    At about 5 weeks, I had to really leave them alone all day for the first time. Either that, or lock them up all day. I was out of the house for over 8 hours. That same day, I received an email saying a gator was spotted in the lake. (Whenever someone spots a gator, all the neighbors alert each other). I'm terrified. In fact, by the time I got home, I didn't even check on them. I was afraid to see them, and more afraid to count. When I did see them, they acted unusually "baby" compared to the independent ducks I'd been trying to raise. And very hungry which I found strange. I took them to the lake to eat and found a gator in their favorite spot.

    I don't believe I ever posted about this gator issue. I was glad to see they had the brains and fear to survive. I tried to catch a gator that night. A neighbor had already called to have it removed. A trap was set. For days, I tried catching the gator while it tried hunting the ducks. Very intense. Twice it was 1-2 feet away from me.. I was in the water. (P.S. If you don't count using bait hooks, I've never hunted anything, and only caught one fish in my life). After 3 days, the gator was gone, and one was in the trap.

    At 5.5 weeks I spent all day with them. We were by the lake. I was trying to get them in. Since the first gator spotting, they have refused to go in the lake to swim, eat plants, or other. They wont even eat food close to the edge. I left them alone for a minute, then they came running to a mini pool by my deck. I saw joggers in the spot they were in. A few minutes later, I noticed 12 ducks. I still don't know what happened. Originally, I thought a bird of prey got them right there. Later, I found there are more gators that my obsession has found, that neighbors don't know about. They think there are usually 0 gators, and sometimes one comes and gets removed. I now believe, we have multiple year-around gators.

    New stuff. Post disappearance:

    I moved their food and water literally INTO the woods by the lake. I also spent 6 hours with pruners clipping thorned vines and other hazards while leaving the area very covered. My only guess for the duck disappearance was a bird. They adapted to hanging out in the woods well. I feel safer for them too. After a while, I spotted another gator, failed to catch it. They're not going into the remaining trap for them. I haven't seen one in weeks. I hear they're not very active when its cold.

    Six to eight weeks were not super eventful. They're still afraid of the lake.

    I had one duck with a hump on its back since birth. It appeared to be causing wing development issues. The right wing doesn't 'tuck-in.' I tried posting pics, but it really doesn't show well.

    I volunteered at a wildlife rescue, and mentioned the ducks as wild, orphaned, mallards. (They don't treat domestic ducks, but wild ducks are free). I brought humpback in the following day and volunteered again.. Instead of free, I'd argue it was expensive for the amount of β*Ⓣch work I did.. They have the right to keep the animal, and release it where they want. I was working to play it safe and re-release at my house.

    They said they'd never seen anything like it. Feeling closely, they said it was just skin, and bones were fine. They wanted to ask a vet. None of them are "professionals." They were waiting for a call back, and said I could take him/her back later that day or the next day. The vet hadn't called, I went home. They said call the following morning. When I did, they said vet wouldn't see duck, but they were keeping it another day for observation, and on painkillers.. No one could explain *** and why.

    The following day, they said same thing, but they were keeping duck at least a WEEK! Still no one could explain what the observations are for, why the drugs, why nothing about the humpback! They said the duck likely would not be able to fly, but they weren't doing anything about the only thing he was there for.

    Those idiots, I'm so upset at them, and myself for leaving duck in bad hands. I mean, I literally knew more about ducks than them. I said, "I'm not sure what breed it is, the mom kind of looked the same, brown, with the strip on the wing. Maybe its a Mallard." They said, "Oh no, I don't think so. Here, let me look in the duck breed guide." And they pointed at this tiny tiny, super exotic looking, white headed, mohawk duck. They are a lot more reasons I think they're stupid. But the awful duck ID was a big problem.

    Finally, yesterday, I drilled them hard:
    "So, what have your observations shown?"
    "What are the potential outcomes you're looking for?"
    "Anything life threatening?"
    "Are there any health concerns at all?"
    "Does the duck seem like its in any pain at all?"
    "Is there any reason for the medication or observation?"
    "Why has it been a week instead of a day?"
    "I know there's a good reason of course, what is it?"

    I got a few stupid stupid answers like: "Oh we're observing stool color." And, "Ducks rarely show when they're in pain." Also, "Well, the duck is still on medication, that's why." But eventually, took forever, but they felt stupid too and admitted, they don't see any reason to keep the duck and I could come pick it up, someone will be there after 5pm still.

    I show up, no one is there, lights are off. But door is unlocked so I go in. The ducks cage is closed, but unlocked. If it leaned on it the door would open. Duck is scared, wont come out :( Like on TV when someone is being rescued and they're afraid to leave cage or go with people. Skipping the sad stuff, took him home, as soon as he heard other ducks freaked out, ran to them, seems well adjusted again, and happy.

    That same week, he was gone, two of the other ducks started flying. A dog I was watching scared them all into the lake. They all got out FAST like it was boiling water. I've been spending time with them by edge of water making the sounds they do when drinking. Slowly they're drinking. I took away their other water source and they seemed so dirty.. Health hazard. Food in nose and eyes, so I added water container again 2 days ago, but now its right by the lake. They're eating by the lake, and even drinking.

    I walked them to the other side of the lake and got them in for a swim a few days ago. That was extremely hard. I figure as long as they're drinking. They'll swim soon. It's really strange that almost exactly half of their lives they swam and ate from the lake, and the second half they wont. That's really the last thing I'm working on.

    Oh! And as of today about half of them are flying! And the crazy thing is humpback, was always last. Last following, last whatever, everything. Today, he is in the front and first with everything. And seems to be the best flier which is crazy! I hope they are able to continue flying and get better at it. I know Rouen's aren't flight breeds, but they're doing it!

    They're staying out of garden, pool. Very good ducks. They free range well. But reality is, without the lake, they're needing me to provide 90%+ of food. Before it was maybe 50%? They eat it all now, and then need more. Before they were full from other stuff a lot and wouldn't finish eating. They're so big. They grow up so fast. I'm glad they'll at least go in lake for safety.

    Well, this has been a very long post :) I just haven't felt very BYC active since #13 disappeared. Having Humpback back is nice. And now whoever wants an update has it :)
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    That's quite a bit of information.

    From what I read, there is at least one alligator in the lake, a duck is missing. I would keep the ducks well away from that body of water.

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