What’s Up, Duck?
Santa brought Peace River Wildlife Center some exciting gifts this year. We have gotten four new resident birds that will be wonderful additions to our shorebird habitat. Many of them came to us from the Wildlife Center of Venice, our sister organization in Sarasota County. While WCV has an even more spacious rehabilitation facility than PRWC does, they are not open to the public and do not have permanent resident animals on display. When they have a patient that will not be releasable, they must find placement or euthanize that individual. Luckily for everyone involved, PRWC is able to help out with that. In return WCV takes on our bigger mammal patients like deer and bobcats since they have the appropriate room and caging for those species.
The first of our new residents is a beautiful male wood duck that presented to WCV with head trauma. (The other birds will be highlighted in upcoming weeks.) After an appropriate amount of time, they deemed the duck unreleasable due to the lack of improvement in his mentation. He is able to get around his enclosure, eat, and swim; but his head and neck are rotated and he would not survive well in the wild. This gorgeous male bird is in full breeding plumage right now. The crest on his head is resplendent in an iridescent greenish-purple. Sounds like he is ready to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.
The wood duck is the only North American duck to routinely raise two broods each season. They nest in cavities formed when branches fall off of trees or nests abandoned by other birds such as the pileated woodpecker. Although they do not construct their own nest cavities, they are quite particular when it comes to the selection of an appropriate site, preferring to be close to or over water. After a 30-day incubation period, the precocial chicks are ready to take on the world. Within 24 hours of hatching they follow as the mother flies out of the nest by jumping out of the cavity and tumbling to the ground below, rarely getting hurt.
Mother will then lead the chicks to a rearing area, up to one mile away from the nest cavity’s location. The fledglings are able to fly by the time they are 8-10 weeks of age. They eat mostly insects soon after hatching and slowly add plants as they mature, becoming omnivores as adults. Our new resident will be on display in the shorebird habitat at PRWC where he can be viewed along with our other residents seven days a week from 11a.m. to 4p.m.
In the “no good deed goes unpunished” category: A couple weeks ago I mentioned that the washing machine at Peace River Wildlife Center was dying. I thanked Earl Smith, owner of Bill Smith Appliances for having given us such a great deal on the premium machine. Apparently one of my readers thought I was being sarcastic. (He must know me pretty well!) But this time I was honestly just expressing my gratitude to Earl Smith. He has been a longtime supporter and benefactor of PRWC. Bill Smith Appliances is a locally owned company that supports the community, sells quality merchandise, and stands behind the products they sell. Trust me when I say, if I am upset with a company, you don’t have to read between the lines to figure it out.
Like I also mentioned in the previous article, we do a lot of laundry. A lot. Every piece is a heavily soiled towel or sheet that we use to line the cages, support weak birds, or pad hard surfaces. The average household may do 100 loads of laundry in a year. At PRWC we do over 1,500 loads in that same time frame. So we get well over 10 years’ worth of service from a machine in just 1 years’ time. Any of our volunteers can attest to that fact. They can explain it to you while they are folding the laundry. And if Santa did not bring you the major appliance of your dreams, tell him to go to Bill Smith Appliances to buy it for you, pronto.
by-Robin Jenkins, DVM