Sick duckling

This little guy was called to my attention by a guy at the pond; the mother had eight babies following her and I wondered where the other one was. The guy said there was one duckling languishing on the bank, and not in good shape.

I brought the little guy (or girl) to my office, covered it, put it by a space heater, and gave it mealworms soaked in water. It’s not interested, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to die. Meanwhile, it’s peeping feebly at my feet and kicking on its side. I think it’ll die within half an hour.

It just died. A few feeble kicks of its little webbed feet, and it was gone.

I’m heartbroken, and in tears.  Don’t expect any more posts today.  Yes, I know attrition is normal, and that, on average, every female in a stable population will leave just two reproducing offspring over its lifetime. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

There are eight left, and I hope we fledge the rest.


  1. GBJames
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Sad way to start the day.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    So sorry, boss.

    Reading this post is like listening to Maria Callas sing the last act of Carmen.

  3. darrelle
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear this Jerry.

  4. Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    So sad

  5. Christopher
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    To modify an Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote:

    To be human is to know that in the end the world will break your heart.

  6. alexandra Moffat
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    how very sad…wondering why, other than the fickle finger of fate. No signs oƒ trauma?
    My sympathies….

  7. Dean Reimer
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Your affection for these ducks and their brood is touching.

  8. Downeastah
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I tend not to post, but I do follow your tales of Hili and the progress of your ducks and squirrels. I am saddened to hear of the loss of the duckling.

  9. Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Heartbreaking. But eight ducklings are counting on you. Fledge the rest!

  10. natalielaberlinoise
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    That’s so sad. I’m verry sorry your duckling died. When we care for a creature we feel for it all the way, be it a cat, a duck, a baby, a friend. I wonder whether you might bury it in the gardens.

    • Taskin
      Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      +1 That is such a nice suggestion.

      • natalielaberlinoise
        Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        When we had to bury animals in my family, we planted a new flower or bush on top of that spot so we could later know that that’s where we buried Mimi, Bingo, Clara, Rudi, Tigresse, Blanche, Kotik. I suppose having a name for the animal helps too…

        • Roo
          Posted May 22, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          That sounds like a really nice idea. So sorry about the duckling Jerry, I’m glad that at least s/he was safe and warm in a comfortable spot during his/her final moments.

    • Posted May 22, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      I did bury it before I saw this, but kept it away from the pond. I didn’t want any predators nosing around, digging it up, and then looking around for more ducklings. I wrapped it in a leaf and put it under the ground. Poor little thing.

  11. AnneMarie
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    You are doing a lot for the family!! Bravo! The little one did not die alone… you were there for him.

  12. Ken Pidcock
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Sorry to learn of your loss.

  13. mikeyc
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Well, it certainly didn’t suffer from starvation, next to predation the biggest cause of duckling deaths (according to Ducks Unlimited). No evident trauma, but mother ducks are known to sometimes cull their brood – usually by drowning, but sometimes by bludgeoning the duckling with their beaks, which might not leave evident marks. Hopefully it was not a parasite or other disease as that might mean the others are risk. Perhaps it ate something toxic or had some other accident. It is unlikely that all the remaining will survive, but the meal worms and corn will help the odds.

  14. Glenda Palmer
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    It hurts – so sorry this happened PCC.

    Seems to be easier if we don’t actually know everything that is going on when we get so close to animals in nature. Their lives can be harsh. I have seen most of the Mallard hens along our creek do their best minding what usually begins with about 10-12 ducklings. Based on ~15 years of observation the experienced mothers manage an average of four to early adulthood.

  15. Debbie Coplan
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry and sad to hear about this loss.

  16. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    The game of life is an unforgiving business and the closer we get to it the more puzzling it is. However, we must get close to it because that it what we do. The loses are harder to deal with but the lives you have are better appreciated.

  17. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Always better to have been loved

  18. ploubere
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    How sad. We know in our minds that this is the way the world works, but that is of little comfort.

  19. Melanie
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry.

  20. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Very sad. More will have a chance of surviving in this unlikely spot because you care and act. Thanks.

  21. Mark R.
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Poor little peeper…what a downer.

  22. Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Poor baby! 🦆

  23. Laurance
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Let me add my voice/electrons to the condolences you are getting here. Loving animals means that eventually you’ll have to live with Loss. I’m sorry to hear that the little duck died. 😦

  24. Taskin
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Poor little fellow. I am so sorry.

  25. Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, my heart is breaking for you; I am so sorry = (

  26. Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Poor little duck. I’m so sorry.

  27. Nicholas K.
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading about Peter and Rosemary Grant’s work with Galapagos finches and how utterly depressing it was to count the dead birds day after day in the year of the terrible drought. Such a waste of life, it seemed. Alas, for one studying evolution, it is the way of the world.

  28. Posted May 22, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    “Fragile: handle with care”. Indeed.

  29. Cate Plys
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I cried a bit once at a shelter dropping off a stray cat, even though it was subzero temperatures and I knew I couldn’t introduce the cat at home to my own cats. The shelter people acted like I was nuts. I guess when it’s your job, crying would be nuts. But for anyone else, how can you not?

  30. Rita
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    So sorry for you, Jerry.

  31. Posted May 22, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Poor little cute creature! At least you kept him as comfortable as possible and spared his broodmates the sight of his death. I do not think ducklings have much cognitive ability, but nevertheless.

  32. Posted May 22, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    😦 x

  33. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Sorry about this Jerry. It’s a shitty world in lots of ways, but all that pain adds contrast to the image.

  34. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Sorry and saddened to hear this news.

  35. Claudia Baker
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Poor little mite.
    Thank you for caring Jerry.

  36. busterggi
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Condolences. Having bred cockatiels for more than a decade I learned than baby birds are more fragile than one might expect. It never gets okay.

  37. BJ
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    This shouldn’t have made me nearly as sad as it did, but, like you, animal suffering really gets me 😦

  38. Posted May 22, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I know, I know. It’s heartbreaking.:( I’m so very sorry, Jerry. Wish we could be there to help you raise the others.

  39. Filippo
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I sympathize and empathize.

    A few years ago, I visited Pike’s Peak. At the bottom of the tramway was a restaurant with a high and expansive ceiling, with pane glass exterior all around and all the way to the top. A hummingbird had unfortunately made its way inside. It had a significantly bent/broken bill from apparently hitting the glass, and its wings were barely fluttering. A boy was haphazardly, carelessly chasing it around. I presumed to shoo him away. I took it out and put it on a low-hanging branch of a sapling, where it sat unsteadily, its breathing labored and its eyelids half closed. Good grief – what a wretched feeling not being able to do anything to help it.

  40. Randy Bessinger
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Very sad.

  41. Diane Garlick
    Posted May 22, 2018 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Oh, dear. So very sad. Condolences, Jerry.

  42. SusanD
    Posted May 23, 2018 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Maybe it had some genetic or congenital abnormality not apparent to the naked eye and natural selection has done its job. Still, it’s a sad thing to see.

  43. Moregain
    Posted May 23, 2018 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    So sorry about the death of the poor little thing.Last week we “lost” our dog, heartbreaking.
    I love your blog, the technical stuff is far beyond me, but I have difficulty in squaring your great love of animals with your fondness for meat based meals. Years ago I struggled with this and became a vegetarian, have you ever considered this?

  44. Andrea Kenner
    Posted May 25, 2018 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry.

%d bloggers like this: