Thursday, April 16, 2009

Surprise Package!

This morning I let Carmella out in the back yard and since it was a nice day I went out there with her. No sooner had I walked out I saw something skitter across my field of vision. There are lots of squirrels because both back and front yards are full of trees so I thought it was another squirrel or maybe one of the chimney swifts that sometimes gets into my house when I open the door or in through the chimney. I didn't pay much attention to it until Carmella ran over and pounced on it (which she doesn't usually bother to do with a squirrel or a chimney swift. This animal she was intent upon trampling, and pinning it down with her front paw and then tried to grab it in her teeth. She normally hung back a bit, but this time she seemed to be going in for the kill, so I ran over and said loudly, "Give me that, Carmella! Drop it!" I looked down to see a squirming little thing beneath her grasp and upon closer inspection I realized it was a little duckling! I picked it up and although it was terrified, flapping its tiny fuzzy wings and peeping loudly, it was not hurt.
It seems I rescued it just in time. Carmella continued to sniff the area and I watched her thinking that if this duckling was wandering around out here in the back yard that there might be others not far behind. You don't usually see just one baby duck by itself, but after about 5 minutes I didn't see any littermates nor the mother, so I figured a neighborhood dog or cat must have gotten them for this little guy to be out by himself like this. There is a small lake about a half a mile up the road where ducks and geese live but normally they don't come in this close to the house, and I've only seen geese fly honking overhead; never land.
The small duck was struggling to get out of my hand and Carmella jumped up on me as if I had a dog treat for her or a juicy steak! It was quite a feat to keep it from hopping away as it was surprisingly agile for a bird that is not really known for agility. I left Carmella outside while I went in to find a container big enough to keep it in, found one of my shipping boxes that some supplies had come in earlier in the month and put it in there temporarily, folding the flaps over and under to keep it securely closed.
The sun was shining brightly, so I took some pictures of it while the lighting was good. Trying to snap a picture with one hand while holding it with the other was not easy and capturing it for the short moments when it wasn't moving, even harder.
Then it occurred to me that Carmella's old carrier that she'd grown out of would make a perfect cage. It had holes that were too small for the duckling to escape, yet big enough so that it would get air and for me to see in. I lined the bottom with newspapers and then took the bird out of the box and put it into the carrier. It seemed to take to the space easily and settled down after just a few minutes. I placed it on top of my washing machine and closed the shutter door in front of it so that it had the effect of a protected little cave.
Then I looked on Google to see what it would eat. The information I found said that ducks are mostly vegetarians but that in addition to things like fruit, vegetables, and grasses, they will also eat bugs. Apparently they drink alot of water but the dish cannot be filled any deeper than about a quarter of an inch or they might drown while playing around in it. I found a jar top and then cut off some kernels from a corn cob I had in the referigerator and placed them in a cut-off styrafoam cup bottom. A little while later when I came in to check on it, it seemed to have eaten some of the corn already.
Carmella seemed to be very jealous of the attention I was giving the newcomer and whined as if she both wanted to eat it for dinner and felt a little ignored. She hovered close by while I typed on the computer and read more about ducks. I petted her and finally when she realized that I had no intention of giving her the little fellow to eat she lay down on the carpet and fell asleep. She soon forgot about the little guy in the next room.
I called Petsmart and asked whether they carried any special food for ducks and the woman answering the phone told me that they do actually have some sort of mix specially made for ducks and geese. a 10 Lb. bag, she said, was only $7.00 and could last a young duckling quite awhile. In the meantime, stuff I have around the house would be fine to feed it. In addition to various fruit and vegetables my house has no shortage of bugs. The new addition should be a great solution to my moth problem and I believe, cockroaches too.
As a child I had all kinds of animals and it seemed that strays always managed to find me. Many summers in Baltimore I would come across baby blue jays that had fallen out of the nest, turtles, snakes, baby squirrels, etc. I'm surprised actually that this is the first orphan duckling that has ever come along.
I had heard that ducks bond to people pretty easily and that youg ones such as this imprint upon humans as if they were their mother. From what I was able to tell from pictures on the internet I believe this one is probably a mallard. I hope it's a male because I love the irridescent green head the adult males have. What I read sounded as though it could be hard to tell the gender of the duck; that sometimes a young male has a weaker cry and sometimes the bill is darker but these methods of telling them apart are not always foolproof. Since I only have one I have no way of comparing a weaker cry from a stronger one and I don't know how dark or light the bill should be. This one has almost all black on the top half and partly yellow and red on the bottom half.
His feet have an interesting pattern with yellow and a little bit of red running vertically to the toes on each side of black webbing.
Carmella's face is continuing to clear up after about a week and a half of antibiotics, and I was able to take her cone off for a few days but then she started biting herself on the flank so vigorously I thought she might bleed soon and start to sneak licks at her paws, so I put the cone back on her today.
I called Dr. Norwood's office to find out whether they ever got the results of the fungal culture. Gwen was in but Dr. Norwood was gone for the day, and she said he'd be back tomorrow and would give the results himself.
I listed several new pieces of jewelry last night. So far there have been no buyers to make use of my 20% off Repeat Customer Appreciation Sale. I've been tweeting the past few days on Twitter and expanding my network there. Another jewelry seller on Etsy told me she sold 8 things on Etsy in one week and 7 things in her Ebay store just recently, so I hope to see some serious buyers soon. People should be getting tax refunds soon if they have not received them already and that should expand most people's buying capacity.
If you'd like to help Carmella here's how you can do that:
1) Purchase jewelry from my Etsy store
2) Buy a $5.00 Scratchback ad on my blog
3) And/Or use the donation button to your right in the sidebar.
I need to raise about $2,000 currently to pay off Carmella's vet bill.


Samantha said...

awwwww, that duckling is the cutest thing ever! Hope your puppy is doing better, he looks like a sweetie.

TheresaJ said...

Awww, what a little cutie, and your photos are gorgeous!

The Giveaway Diva said...

aww that duckling is sooo cute!! are u planning to keep him?

Giftbearer said...

Thanks for the nice comments everybody! Yes, I probably will keep him. He would probably have little to no chance for survival in the wild now that he lost his mother. He seems to have just barely gotten to the age where he eats on his own. I think he is eating a little mushy vegetables but still seems unused to eating. He seems to like green vegetables best, like broccoli (the top part) and will peck at it a little.

Giftbearer said...

Still waiting for the fungal results of Carmella's culture.

Anonymous said...

That duckling is totally sweet. Love your photos.