Why are you here?

I usually try to avoid political discussions in this weekly forum, but it is getting to the point where that is impossible.  The illegal aliens have infiltrated Peace River Wildlife Center and we demand that the wall be constructed immediately, if not sooner between our esteemed country and that of our insidious neighbor.

No, I am not seeing little green men again.  The immigrants to which I refer are from the planet Canada.  Apparently, the health care system in that nefarious country is so bad there that even their wildlife has to come to Florida for treatment.

PRWC admitted a surf scoter that was found on the ground, unable to walk well.  Of course, being a medium-sized sea duck, it I would be more of an anomaly if he could walk well on land.

This unusual bird breeds in northern Canada and Alaska and winters along both the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, never far inland.  Punta Gorda is at the far southern edge of their natural winter-grounds habitat.  This young adult male bird was brought to us by concerned citizens who were understandably confused about the bird’s identity and health.

Surf scoters should be well ensconced in their far northern breeding grounds by May and have their nests built and eggs laid by early June.  This little outlier is not only in the wrong place, but in the wrong time as well.  While it is not incorrect to assume there must be something wrong with him, his actions are not completely out of the ordinary.

Young surf scoters and other non-breeding adults do not necessarily return to their breeding grounds.  However most of them do spend summers in more northern locales like New Jersey and on the west coast.  It’s understandable why this little guy decided to stay in southwest Florida.  It always amazes me that anyone from Canada returns home after a visit here, and don’t even get me started on New Jersey!

After the breeding pair returns to the breeding grounds, builds their nest, and lays their eggs; the male departs.  The female is solely responsible for incubation of the eggs.  As soon as the brood hatches, she leads her precocial chicks to a nearby pond to begin feeding on aquatic invertebrates.  The new mothers are not territorial as far as their broods go, and it is not uncommon to have an exchange of young between mothers.

Outside of the breeding grounds, surf scoters are usually found out at sea.  They dive to feed on fish spawn and mussels, which they swallow whole, shell and all.  They usually occur in large flocks, sleeping and feeding in synchronous shifts to facilitate food gathering and safety.

PRWC’s patient surf scoter was little weak on admission.  His waterproofing was poor, which is another indication of suboptimal health.  He is being treated symptomatically for dehydration and is eating well.  After cage rest in the hospital, he will be transferred to an outdoor habitat where we can monitor his progress and decide on his future deportation status.  Unlike some heartless politicos in this country, we want to make sure this little guy is healthy before we return him to the wilds of an inhospitable country like Alaska.

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM