Friday, March 16, 2012

Nearly a duck-disaster

I've been so busy posting about Mexico (and lying around sick in bed with the bubonic plague, I mean, walking pneumonia -- by the way, I'm not walking much!) that I've put off writing about the duck near-disaster on Monday. Eugenia, aka Mama Duck,  had 12 adorable ducklings last summer and is a very wonderful protective mother. But on Monday, she nearly got dragged away by a fox in broad daylight. Gordon managed to scare the fox off her and save her, but the fox had grabbed her by the left leg, and broke it just above the lowest joint. He also left a small puncture wound which I cleaned out with hydrogen peroxide and slathered with antibiotic cream.

We spent 36 hours trying to get a vet around here to look at her, with no success. It was frustrating, as we have a vet 45 minutes from here that has given us chicken advice in the past. But this week he was busy with some cow emergency and didn't get back to us. I think I am going to have to find a bird vet in Ottawa for future incidents. At any rate, I decided to take matters into my own hands and attempt to set the leg myself. I found this site extremely helpful. I ended up making a splint out of plastic from a yogurt container, plus vet wrap, surgical tape, and a little foam padding. I just hope she's not crippled for life after this...


I gently taped her webbed foot flat and open to the bottom of the splint device. The break is just above her "ankle." Ducks' legs are very delicate.


So far Eugenia seems to be doing well. Her son Hannibal often sits next to the cage keeping her company. She's eating, drinking and grooming and doesn't seem to be in any obvious pain. She stands on her good leg and can move her bad leg from the hip down to the break. She hates me as much as she did last summer when she had her ducklings and wanted to kill me every time I went near them! But she was very good when I disinfected and wrapped her leg. She was on her back on Gordon's lap the whole time I worked on it, and it was like she understood  I was trying to help her. I have been checking her foot every day to make sure it's warm and I didn't wrap it too tightly.  She is moving around more every day. Right now we have her in a large dog cage in the duck coop, but this weekend, we want to make her a bigger enclosure in there. I mainly don't want any boy-ducks mounting her while she's recovering!

If anyone has any advice on helping her heal, I'm all ears. I have read varying opinions on how long to keep the splint on, anywhere from two to three weeks to six weeks. Also I am not sure if I should check under the wrap at any point. And are there any over-the-counter painkillers you can give a Muscovy duck? 

We do have a fenced run for our duckies, but on Monday Mama flew over the fence with Ronna-duck and one of the youngsters. I was in our upstairs bathroom, getting ready to go out and round them up, when by chance I looked out the window just in time to see a fox streaking up from the field behind the barn. I screamed at Gordon that a fox was outside going for the ducks. He managed to get down there fast enough to scare away the fox, who was on Eugenia's back. Ronna had flown up to the front of our garage, and the young girl-duck was on top of the enclosed chicken run! All very upsetting.

We could clip the ducks' wings to prevent them flying out, or we could net over the whole duck run, which would be a difficult prospect as it's so large. It's tough, because we have to balance their quality of life with safety from predators. (They are pets, not future suppers!) Since Mama has been confined, the other ducks haven't shown much interest in leaving the run. We've been checking on them several times a day when they've been out and are planing on putting up the electric netted fence as a further barrier outside the run (we have to take it down in winter because of the snow.)

So cross your fingers for Eugenia's healing and if you have any advice, fire away. 

Here are some happier duck photos from today. Spring came early this year and it has been unseasonably warm. This weekend we are supposed to reach over 20C (pushing 70F.)



Here's Amy Winehouse, who has turned out to be a boy, with his as-yet-to-be-named sister. I'm thinking of calling Amy "Jamie"...



And Hannibal, who is very affectionate with me. Of course, he has also mounted my arm on occasion. He likes having his beak stroked (not a euphemism!!!)




Ronna, who managed to escape the fox attack by flying up to the garage.



Warren of the flipped wing. He's the Upper Canada Village duck that has been overwintering with us. Personally I hope he doesn't have to go back.



Girl-duck awaiting a name!



Moishe and Hannibal, with Ronna and Charlie Sheen in the background!



This guy needs a better name than "Purply", which I took to calling him after I had to spray Blu-Kote on his nibbled tailfeathers this winter.



Having a good shake-out!

I'll keep you posted on Eugenia.




33 comments:

  1. I hope she's okay. But I give thanks you didn't photograph a certain corkscrewy thing!

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  2. all those drakes next spring.....
    all that tesosterone!!!!

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    1. I'm screwed, I know! "Anybody want a pet drake?"

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  3. ps
    I think you have done the best you can
    just watch it for swelling and infection... I suspect it may never heal properly but good for you for trying
    you hve done a better job than any vet would do xxxx

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    1. Thanks John! I am most worried about infection. I'll be happy if she can get around okay afterwards. She leads a bit of a pampered duck life so as long as she's comfortable, I'll keep her going. :)

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  4. Quite the duck farm! You've looked after this bird extremely well and I'm sure the vet won't have to do anything. Ducks waddle so if the bone isn't set exactly right I'm sure you'll never know.

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    1. Thanks Red! I have way too many drakes but everyone's happy at the moment. We'll see what happens when mating season really fires up!

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  5. Here's to Eugenia's quick recovery. I hope she's healing well.

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    1. Thanks Ahab! SHe seems perkier every day. I will keep everyone posted.

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  6. Keep the web flat ..make a carboard sole if you have to ..you can use aspirin as a bird painkiller...can't remember the dose but can look it up in my notes if you need it...just e mail me.
    Jane x

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    1. Jane, I emailed you about this; let me know if it doen't show up. I did make a "sole" that is integral to the splint (with a bend where her joint is) and I taped the foot flat. So far, so good. I would like to give her aspirin so I asked you backchannel about dosages.
      THANK YOU!!!

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  7. Nice photos!!! Lucky ducks!

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  8. Poor Eugenia!Hope she heals quickly!

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    1. Me too! Can you believe our USELESS dogs were outside when this happened?! They were sitting up at the house. Of course after Gordon ran down to the barn, they were all "Woah! I smell fox!" and running around with their noses to the ground. LIvestock guardians they are not.

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  9. What an ordeal. Eugenia looks plenty content in your photos. May she heal well and soon. (And you too!)

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    1. I think she may be healing faster than me, although I did sleep through the night without cough syrup last night!! :)

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  10. Poor Mrs. Ducky! I hope Eugenia heals well, I think you did as well for her as a vet would have, IMO.

    I have some bee issues--they appear to have taken over an aborvitae bush right next to the Catio--how do I tell swarming from a hive? I have gotten really close and parted the branches to look inside and the bees are not aggressive when I do this. I can't see anything that looks like a hive, as IF I know what to look for! The bush has lots of sticky sap right now, could they be eating that? I estimate about two hundred bees. HELP!
    ~Trish

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    1. Hi Trish! Okay, here are my thoughts on this. If it IS a swarm, they won't stay there long. And swarms are generally not aggressive. Honeybees in nature USUALLY set up a hive in a cavity, like a hollowed out tree with an entry hole. So it seems unlikely that they'd set up shop in your arborvitae, although stranger things have happened. Now having said that, you're a hot climate, and they can built hives in trees like this:

      http://www.clarkpest.com/blog/bid/39646/San-Diego-Pest-Control-Officials-Remove-Large-Balboa-Park-Beehive

      http://www.bees-on-the-net.com/beehive-built-in-a-tree.html

      If you see them building honeycomb, that means they're setting up shop. If you want them removed, I would first try to find a local beekeeping association, as beekeepers will sometimes do that for free (we like free bees.)

      THe other thing I thought of is that your sap-laden bush is very appealing to honeybees in spring. Again, it's a little different where you are (climate) but here there isn't much for bees to forage on right now. So if they find a bonanza source (like your tree), they will tell all their bee friends and flock to it in swarms. Foraging honeybees are seldom aggressive; they are too busy gathering food to care about much else! They could definitely be eating sap. Bees here go to trees in early spring for sap. That's how I get amazing basswood honey. :)

      200 bees sounds like foraging bees to me. 20,000 would be more like a hive. :) Keep me posted and let me know if you have more questions!! I also belong to Beesource Forums and if it's a swarm, I could try posting to ask if anyone lives in your area and can remove the swarm!

      TAKE PHOTOS! :)

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    2. I should say, the swarm won't stay there long unless they are setting up shop! ;)

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  11. Best wishes to Eugenia for a speedy recovery! You're going to have to bite the bullet (literally) and arm your ducks. There's a website somewhere I found that sells little down-sized rifles and side-arms, I'll look up the address for you. So long as no-one arms the fox it shouldn't deteriorate into a scene at the OK Corral.

    @ Katnip - bees! Aaarrrgghhhhhh! That's the sound of me running for the hills, flailing everything ...

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    1. Thanks Owl Wood! I think my ducks (and chickens) definitely need sidearms!!! I have neighbours who would love to come shoot the fox, but I'm not into that method of predator control. Besides, other foxes/coyotes/dogs just show up anyway. But if the ducks want to fight back, I'm all for it!!

      Now don't be afraid of HONEYBEES!!! They are not generally aggressive (unless you invade their hives and piss them off, or step on a bee in the garden like I did!) We need to have a talk so I can calm you down over this. :) The other day I was standing right next to my hives as hundreds of bees were out and about. That said, I do know the signs of bee aggression. For starters, if they start bouncing themselves off your head, it's time to back off...

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  12. I think Eugenia pretends to hate you : ) So glad Gordon was able to get to her aid fast enough. Although I don't have any advice on healing Eugenia's leg faster, I do wish her a speedy recovering. But, I wish you a speedy recovery, too! Your ducks sure are beautiful.

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    1. I have to say, it's almost miraculous that I (a) saw the fox from the bathroom window just in time and (b) Gordon (who is not generally swift-moving) got down there in time to scare off the fox before he dragged the duck away.

      You may be right about Eugenia. SHe worked really hard last summer at protecting her babies from me but I don't think it was anything personal. :)

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  13. Anonymous11:46 am

    Knatolee would make a fine Duckie Army medic! She did a most fine job in comforting mama (who quietly sat on my lap during the whole procedure), and applying her extensive improvised medical device (IMD) MacGyveresque knowledge to send Mama on the mend. If I ever break my leg, I know who I'll ask to set it!

    g

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    1. Uh, if you ever break your leg, Gordon, I am taking you straight to the local ER!!!

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  14. Can I come to you if I ever break my leg?
    You did such a good job and I wouldn't hesitate to call on you.:-)

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    1. Hey, I'll fill you up with vodka and set to work!

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  15. Aw, poor Eugenia. I hope she makes a full recovery.

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    1. So far she's hanging in there We put her cage out in the sun yesterday and the other ducks came up to visit her. She seemed pretty happy.

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  16. Nat, I think I have a broken elbow... Can I come up and have you look at it??? Maybe you can make an IMD for it? I have it in a soft cast which kinda helps, but rumor has you're pretty good at this stuff...

    ~Lynn

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    1. Let me see what I can do. I recommend you drink a lot of liquor before I get to work. ;))))

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    2. All kidding aside, you broke your elbow?! OW OW OW!!! You're my second bloggy friend with a broken elbow right now!!

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!