Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Duck, Duck, Goose
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
 
Neighbors Susan and Scott are advocates for the wild birds along river road.  They encourage others in protecting the bird's health and safety.  They are approaching the city for new duck crossing signs alerting vehicles to slow down in the popular scenic area.  "We learned that feeding birds bread products can cause deformities.  Inexpensive duck food is readily available at feed stores," said Susan.

TALES

Susan's family received a fowl education after moving across the street from a Cottage Grove attraction; a flock of wild ducks and geese on River Road.
 
Susan says, "The flock maintains surveillance on us! When they hear our house or car doors, they swarm to our house, because they know food is coming!"

"Pigeons give a 'heads up' to the ducks, geese, and crows by flying over and landing on the overhead electric wires.

I hurry with their food, so other birds won't cross the road creating traffic problems. The pigeons follow me down the street, leap frogging over one another on the wires. Not once have they pooped on me!" laughs Susan. "By the time I arrive at river's edge, I am surrounded by dozens of birds."

Old Mill Feed Store, just up the road, sells duck feed and cracked corn, which the flock loves. Families stop in there, buy small baggies of this nutritious bird food, and then walk over and feed the birds.

Susan's plea, "Don't feed birds bread, buns, potato chips, popcorn or (gasp) moldy bread.

They're ducks, not vacuum cleaners! These products are not life sustaining for ducks! Plasticizers in commercial bread dough cause deformities and mold makes them sick, just like us!"
Scott's kittens are watching the geese arrive for lunch!
 
When the geese are hungry, they've been know to boldly knock on Scott's door with their bills.

Currently, the birds are waddling across the road searching for safe places to nest. Many times, Susan has stepped into the street to slow cars preventing a bird tragedy.

Twice this week, birds have been hit.  While driving down River Road, Mr. Angel Scribe discovered geese standing in the middle of the road. All the ducks were quacking vigil on the sidewalk. He stopped his car to move the geese back to safety, and discovered one of their brethren lying dead amongst them. He carefully moved the body off the road and the other geese followed.

"Yesterday," Susan said, " I heard a car horn and went running. Apparently, a duck wasn't crossing the street fast enough for the driver.  The driver struck the duck, then drove away. The duck hopped on one 'foot' back to the river, leaving a pile of feathers in its wake. It hopped into the river and swam with its right leg dangling uselessly.

Today, we found him alone.  He was cold, so he was puffed up because of the bald spot on his back and hip, roosting on the river bank.  A passerby's dog startled him and the duck rose, limping. His wing might also be broken, we haven't seen him fly. I don't know how he will survive. Pain is pain and my heart hurts for him. He can't phone 911 for help.  That was the last we saw of him. Wounded ducks are easy prey for raccoons, dogs, and feral cats.

When you see animal abuse, get the license plate, or use your cell phone and take a photo! 

Unbelievably, children and dogs run after the ducks and geese, or the children throw rocks at the birds. This is their home. No one wants to be terrorized in their own home, and respecting wildlife says a lot about us as humans.

Fishermen can help protect the birds; pick up lead weights, hooks, fishing line, cigarette butts and trash.

Having the birds reside in town allows us a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature. They give us a moment to stop and focus on something other than our own problems."

NOTE: Old Mill Farm Store has a collection jar, where customers leave donations to help Susan and Scott pay for the fifty pound sacks of healthy bird food to feed the ducks and geese.

TIPS

"Currently, the entire flock has paired for mating season," informs Susan. "Keep a safe distance. The males are extremely protective of their mates. The geese are aggressive and can be dangerous.

Even though they trust me, last year one of the geese struck at me, like a frog after a bug. He grabbed my upper lip and gave me a very painful shake!

Teach children to respect the birds' need for safety. Remember these birds are wild creatures," advises Susan.

Debbie at Old Mill Farm store adds, "Don't feed birds processed human food! Most foods are full of sugar and chemicals foreign to ducks' digestive systems. Bread dough has plasticizers and preservatives. Moldy products and sugars harm the adult birds, and disfigure their babies with the horrible disease Angel Wings."

According to Wikipedia, birds who eat breads/chips/popcorn etc. result in this debilitating disease which is "incurable and usually leads to an early death as affected birds are rendered totally flightless."

"Tired of hundreds of healthy snails in your yard? Capture them under an upside-down pot and bring them down to feed the ducks," suggests Debbie. "They love them! Birds also love chickweed, shredded carrots or dark green lettuce, not iceberg. Also, many Feed stores sell nutritious grains for birds. Buy 25 cents worth and keep your wild fowl healthy."
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AngelScribe, PO Box 1004, Cottage Grove, Oregon 97424  USA
 
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