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A visit from Emily Peepers

July 1, 2013

I was getting worried.  Our resident duck was religiously sitting on her nest, but according to our records those eggs should have hatched on Tuesday at the latest.  So, Thursday morning I began Googling again to see if we were going to have 8 rotten eggs and no baby ducks.  I found one site that made me hope for the best, it said that at the beginning of the egg laying process, the eggs don’t need the mama duck to sit on them.  The embryo hasn’t begun to grow yet.  The mama duck is actually away from the nest most of the day.  This piece of information made me sigh with relief.  We kept scaring her in the beginning and she would fly away and not return for 6 hours!  Oh, I was worried.  This also indicated that I didn’t really have a solid date for when she began the incubation period.  Plus, this sight said between 27 and 30 days, so we were still in the window.

I had a bunch of errands and a department meeting that morning, so I was rushing out the door, and I always talked to the duck when I was leaving (She stopped flying away when people knocked on our door, so we began to use the front door again.)  so I was greeting mama duck, and Katie was out there with me when she said, “Look!”

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A baby!  Oh!  I wanted to stay home so bad!  But, alas, duty calls.

When I did get home hours later I check on the ducks, and couldn’t see any babies.  I figured that they were all underneath the mama.  She kept looking higher and higher.  We couldn’t wait to see more!

The next morning, Jeff came in to say goodbye (I was still in bed, he was off to work). He told me that she was really high and he was sure they were all hatched!

I had another work-related meeting to get to so I got up and got ready.  Again, I went out the door, but…all I saw was this:

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Two eggs.  No ducks.  Jeff only left an hour and a half before.  Rude.  They could have at least rung the doorbell to say good-bye.  I dreamed of watching them march away in a nice straight line.  Humph.

I went back inside and whined told the kids that the duck was gone. They, of course rushed out to make sure I wasn’t lying.  That is when Katie, our resident duck whisperer said, “A BABY DUCK!”  I looked to where she was pointing and sure enough, our mama duck abandoned a baby on our sidewalk.

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Great.  I had Sarah take a lap around the house to see if we could see the mama with her straight line of chicks.  Nope.  They were gone.  So, now we had a duck.  And I had a meeting.  I picked up the duckling and she was shaking.  I held her close and went back in the house to get everyone settled, and go over some rules.

1. You must hold the duck the whole time.  She is cold and she needs your warmth.

2.  Don’t let Franklin eat her.

3.  Don’t drop her.

4.  Or squeeze her.

5.  See numbers 2-4 several more times.

Katie, being the duck whisperer and all wanted to hold her NOW.  So, once we got inside, I gently handed her the tiny shaky bird and….she promptly dropped her.  Great.  We were already breaking rules and failing at the duck caring business.  I made her sit on a chair and she said, “But she BIT me!”  Really?  She had no teeth and it literally tickled.  We tried again, with success.

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It was serious business.  And I had to leave.  Which I did.  It was a crazy day of a work meeting, getting Nicholas to hockey, and bringing my dad to the dentist.  I also had to go to the grocery store in between things.  And now?  I needed to find duck food.  I fielded many calls from home:  “MOM!  The duck made a noise!”  “Mom, the duck is really wiggly.”  “MOM!!  The duck POOPED!”  What did we do before cell phones?  After my meeting, I went to buy food for my own kids and the duck.  What do you feed a baby duck?  Cracked corn is what The Wild Bird Store told me. So I got a 10 pound bag.  Look at how little she was:

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She needed about a Tablespoon.  But it didn’t come 2 cup bags.

In between getting home from the store(s) after my meeting and taking Nicholas to hockey we tried to feed her.  She had trouble.

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She ended up in the water, and she couldn’t get out.  She was shaking again, so we wrapped her in a towel.  I had to get Nicholas to hockey and my dad to the dentist.  Sarah was given the task of mixing the cracked corn with water to make a mush so it would be easier for her to eat.  I left again.

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When I finally got home after the dentist and lunch with my dad, I could do an assessment.  I knew the mama duck wouldn’t have left her behind for no reason.  So I tried to figure out the problem.  It didn’t take long.  She seemed to be always in the midst of trying to do a backward somersault.  I wondered if she could even walk.  I put down her cloth and then put her down to see what would happen.

We had a special needs duckling.  Poor thing.  We named her Emily Peepers because she peeped a lot, and Emily just felt right.  We found out that Franklin wouldn’t eat her, and actually I think he would have preferred to hold her.  Every time she peeped he was concerned.
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We knew we couldn’t care for Emily.  I was afraid she would die anyway, even though she seemed to have a lot of spunk, she just couldn’t move the correct direction.  But we couldn’t hold her constantly forever.

I called the nature center that is literally minutes away from my house and they suggested bringing her to the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Center.  It is a little bit farther than minutes from my house.  We decided to wait until Jeff got home from work and we would make it an adventure.  He was less than happy with the rush hour traffic, but 45 minutes later, we made it!

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We all said goodbye, and they took her into the back and put her on a warming pad.  It is such a great place.  They are non-profit and take all kinds of animals that need help.  They have a vet on site.  The girl that I talked to on the phone told me that they had a bunch of abandoned ducklings and that Emily Peepers would be with her new adopted siblings.  Ducks are supposed to be in flocks, not on my couch, apparently.  We donated the cracked corn and I gave them another cash donation.  For Emily.  They also said that we could email them for an update!  I emailed them this morning.

When we were there another woman had just brought in a great horned owl chick.  She showed us a picture on her phone.  And as we were leaving, some boys had a bucket full:

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Blue Jays.  Hungry Blue Jays.

Even though ducklings like to flock, I still think she had a pretty good day on our couch.

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Special Announcement:

I am planning on posting every day in July.  I need a requirement, and July is the best month to do it.  I would love company!  Anyone Game?  A little July Nablopoma?  Come on, you know you want to!

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5 Comments
  1. July 3, 2013 4:21 am

    I was reliving my childhood as I read this post. Wow! We tried to keep a baby once and it died. The wildlife rescue place sounds just wonderful! I volunteered at a place like that when I was in middle school. It was sort of overwhelming feeding shoebox after shoebox of cheeping abandoned babies, but they took wonderful care of the birds there.

    I will join you in posting every day in July, starting today. Gasp! I have fallen so far out of the habit of blogging and am just itching to get back on the wagon. We are in Spain right now which always provides lots of good writing material!

    • July 3, 2013 10:37 pm

      Oh! I am so excited to have a partner in crime! Plus, I am excited to catch up with you. You must be LOVING all of the extra time you have now, although in my experience that time gets filled up fast! xo

  2. July 3, 2013 2:49 pm

    How great that you had the rescue place so close! We’ve only ever had a baby magpie but it wouldn’t eat or drink anything we tried and the next time we looked out it was gone, so hopefully it went on to live, fly and be free. What a great story and I agree: what DID we do before cellphones? Also, if you are going to blog every day I will be SO HAPPY! Alas, I have already missed three days, just got home today and ain’t no blogging happening here yet… soon, though I promise!

    • July 3, 2013 10:40 pm

      Once you are over your travel transitions we can pretend that it is the first day of July for you! Jump right in, the water is perfect!

      I can’t wait to hear all about your trip to Hogwarts! I am super jealous. I LOVE Harry Potter!

      I am also excited to hear about other parts of your trip. Your facebook updates made it sound like you were having a blast!

      Welcome home! xo

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