This little Australian wood duckling was found all alone in Echuca and taken to Rose’s Veterinary Clinic. Rose rang me straight away and I collected him immediately, knowing how important it is to get these guys into a nice, warm environment and one which they feel comfortable in.
You can see in the photo that this little fellow still has his egg tooth, the white pimple-looking thing at the tip of his little bill. This means that he is not long hatched, as the egg tooth usually drops off in a few days after hatching. The egg tooth is what enables the duckling to break out of the shell and it is amazing to think that this tooth is the tool which enables the hatch to happen. Breaking egg shell is hard and exhausting work for a tiny chick or duckling.
I do not know this duckling’s history, only that he was found alone. There is the possibility that he is a late hatcher which happens frequently with ducklings. The rest of his siblings may have all hatched within 48 hours of each other and left with the parent ducks to travel to feeding grounds, while this little fellow may have hatched late, emerged into an empty nest hollow and had no choice but to try take on the world on his own. Lone ducklings generally do not survive in the wild on their own without the security and comfort of their parents and a clutch. Warmth is critical for tiny ducklings, as is protection from predators.
He is doing well on his own and has settled in nicely at Bohollow, though I don’t doubt that he will have friends joining him soon as he grows at the shelter.
If you find baby ducklings or other chicks on their own, please call for help. Do not attempt to raise them on your own. Take them to a registered wildlife shelter as soon as possible. This can mean life or death for a young chick. Warmth is critical for them, so keep them nice and toasty until they reach the shelter and please DO NOT FEED unless you have been advised to do so by a shelter operator.
Birds feed frequently, particularly baby birds, but feeding inappropriate food or incorrect feeding methods can cause the death of a critter, particularly baby birds.
Always call for help. Despite being cute, baby critters require special care and baby birds grow extremely quickly. This duckling will be flying in eight weeks time so he needs to have the correct diet and care to grow strong and develop properly or problems begin to arise very quickly.
And so it begins. The crazy season is officially upon us. The season of frequent feeding, the sound of chicks begging incessantly, makeshift nests, pin feathers and poor sleep.
Bring it on, Spring!