Tag Archives: duck

Drought’s impact on duck dynasties

Top Photo
You know what they say about how ducks take to water.

What if there isn’t any water?

Dry conditions across California this spring reduced the population of breeding mallard ducks by nearly one-quarter, to levels not seen since the drought of the late 2000s.

In round numbers, the population decreased from 387,100 ducks last year to 298,600 ducks this year.

Reductions in water supply often make headlines for the impact on farms, cities and endangered fish. But this year’s poor duck count demonstrates how waterfowl, too, are susceptible to drought.

The results, released last week by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, have implications for the hunting community in Stockton and elsewhere, since hunting regulations next fall will be based in part on how many ducks were breeding this past spring. The economic benefit of waterfowl hunting in California has been estimated at more than $100 million.

Waterfowl are faring much better in other parts of North America, but 70 percent of the mallard ducks harvested by California hunters come from this state, making it important to ensure the birds have quality habitat and water here at home.

Caroline Brady, programs coordinator for the California Waterfowl Association, said she doubts hunters will be surprised by the reduction in population.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a shock because of the lack of water,” she said.

The good news is that populations could bounce back if next winter is wet. The numbers have fluctuated up and down over the past two decades, and bag limits are actually more liberal today than they were more than a decade ago, Brady said.

“The important thing to look at is the general trend,” she said. “For the most part there’s years when it’s really high and there’s years when it’s really low.”

But, she added, “Some water (next year) would do everyone some good.”

Ducks usually pair up in late winter, and once spring arrives, they work together to find a nesting site. They’ll pick one that is upwind and not far from water.

The problem during a year like this, Brady said, is that water is moved around so much, particularly on private lands.

Ducks that pick a nest based on availability of water may suddenly find themselves five miles from the nearest source.

Fish and Wildlife has been conducting its waterfowl surveys since 1955, flying fixed-wing aircraft up and down the Valley and over the farms and wetlands of far northeastern California. The California Waterfowl Association assists, using low-flying helicopters to watch for birds on the ground.

Mallards weren’t the only concern this spring. The total number of ducks of all species declined from 529,700 last year to 451,300 this year, which is 77 percent of the long-term average.

Source: http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130625/A_NEWS/306250319


Lucky Ducks

Seven ducklings are lucky to be alive after being pulled to safety from a storm drain in Ohio by Good Samaritans – but the baby mallards ultimately have their mom to thank for their rescue.

Columbus Discovery District Officer Bill Cobun was passing through a parking lot on the Columbus campus of Columbus State Community College Tuesday when he noticed an agitated duck standing near the grate of a storm drain.

The mallard was squawking as if trying to draw someone’s attention and appeared in distress, so Cobun approached the feathered critter for a closer look, suspecting that she might be ill.

Duck in distress: An agitated mallard was spotted standing near the grate of a storm drain in Columbus, Ohio, and squawking Duck in distress: An agitated mallard was spotted standing near the grate of a storm drain in Columbus, Ohio, and squawking

Stranded: Seven chicks had fallen down into the storm drain in a parking lot on the Columbus campus of Columbus State Community CollegeStranded: Seven chicks had fallen down into the storm drain in a parking lot on the Columbus campus of Columbus State Community College

Hometown heroes:  Columbus Discovery District Officer Bill Cobun (left) and Police Lt. Dan Werner (right) answered the feathered mom’s distress call and came to her ducklings’ rescue 

When the safety officer made his way to the grate, he heard chirping coming from the underground nook.

As it turns out, the mallard was upset that seven of her chicks had fallen down into the storm drain and became stranded, ABCNews.com reported.

Cobun called for assistance, inadvertently alerting the college’s media relations coordinator David Wayne, who rushed to the scene of the duckling rescue accompanied by a videographer.

Meanwhile, college safety officers and Lt. Dan Werner, of the Columbus State Police, arrived in the parking lot and removed the grate.

The rescue of the trapped ducklings was captured on video showing the officers plucking the fuzzy yellow-and-black chicks from the storm drain and setting them free above ground.

Rescue mission: The officers remobed the grate, reached down into the hole and extracted the tiny trapped ducklings Duck tale: The officers remobed the grate, reached down into the hole and extracted the tiny trapped ducklings
ducklings ducklings

Freedom: The tiny baby ducks were released from their captivity, rushing to their mother’s side

Happy end: Once the ducks were reunited, they went about their business Happy end: Once the ducks were reunited, they went about their business

The tiny critters could be seen rushing to their mother’s side, one of them even flipping over in his hurry to reunite with his feathered parent.

Lt Werner, a self-described animal lover, said he was thrilled to help save the baby ducks from their predicament.

‘What amazes me is nature, how mama wouldn’t leave. She was staying right here. She kept looking in the hole to make sure they were OK,’ he said.

Once the tight-knit avian family were back together, the mom and her ducklings went on their merry way.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2345558/Lucky-ducks-The-heartwarming-moment-ducklings-fell-storm-drain-rescued-concerned-mother-looks-on.html#ixzz2XDsMFuKf


The 'Culture Duck' at the Everglades Hotel has gone missing. A reward is being offered for its safe return.

reward is being offered for the safe return of a three-foot high ‘Culture Duck’ which has gone missing from the Everglades Hotel.

The Culture Duck, which “lived” on the piano in the hotel foyer, went missing this week.

The duck – a talking point for guests and visitors to the hotel – was created to celebrate Derry’s City of Culture status.

Neil Devlin, the hotel’s general manager, said: “The Culture Duck has been a vocal point of our City of Culture celebrations. At Hastings Hotels, we are well known for our quirky ducks so we thought it was only right to have a special duck to celebrate Derry’s big year.

“Our Culture Duck has sat on the piano since January and has greeted all of our guests and a host of celebrities, including the Northern Ireland football manager Michael O’Neill, X Factor star Janet Devlin and rapper Wretch 32.

“There are mini versions of the ducks left for guests in their bedrooms to take home with them, but people also love getting their picture taken with the three-foot tall Culture Duck which is great as it provides people with lasting memories of Derry’s year as the UK City of Culture.

“As well as being a part of our family, it is also a part of our community as it was designed by Georgia Archibald, from Limavady Grammar School, who won the Design a Culture Duck competition we ran last year with all of the local schools.

“We are offering a reward for the safe return of our Culture Duck and are urging anyone who knows anything about its whereabouts to get in touch with us on Tel: 028 71321066.”

Source: http://www.derryjournal.com/news/everglades-goes-quackers-over-missing-culture-duck-1-5213652

Hi-rise hatchers

Thirteen eggs in a planter on one of Terry Allen Kramer’s terraces hatched the day she was having a luncheon for friends at her Upper East Side penthouse.

The wild ducklings were not only tiny but also hungry, so she put out dry cereal and shredded lettuce. “And then they wanted the lobster we were having for lunch,” said Mrs. Kramer, the Broadway producer whose hits include the Tony Award-winning “Kinky Boots.”

Her ducklings might have been the only baby birds nibbling on cold lobster in New York City, but they are hardly the only mallards born on Manhattan’s terraces and roof decks, according to Michelle Gewirtz, a volunteer at New York City’s Wild Bird Fund.

Each year, Ms. Gewirtz rescues 10 to 15 clutches of baby ducks from rooftops, no place for them to learn to fly.

When Ms. Gewirtz, a licensed animal rehabilitator who has earned the nickname The Duck Wrangler, started rescuing birds eight years ago, the majority of the nests were on the Upper East Side. Mrs. Kramer’s East 69th Street terraces first became the nesting site for a female mallard three years ago, and again this spring.

“It’s amazing to think that you could be in New York City and wake up one morning and you have a family there,” Mrs. Kramer said. “I almost felt like God had touched me. I had to take care of them.”

This year, several nests appeared on the Columbia University campus and on roofs and in courtyards on the Upper West Side, according to Ms. Gewirtz.

Central Park is rife with predators – from rats to snapping turtles — and the female mallard looks for safer spots, Ms. Gewirtz said.

“So she picks these terraces that are nice and green and secluded,” she said.

Mallards are precocial, meaning the ducklings are born able to eat on their own.  Since there isn’t enough food for them on the rooftops, the Wild Bird Fund recommends a special high-protein food for ducklings and dark greens. Mrs. Kramer’s ducklings continued to like lobster, she said, but when her butler returned from Florida, he brought back live worms.

The Wild Bird Fund was created by two women: Rita McMahon, a former market research consultant, and Karen Heidgerd, the practice manager at an Upper West Side veterinary hospital, Animal General. They met after Ms. McMahon picked up a sick Canada goose alongside Interstate 684.

A year ago this month, after a decade of treating animals in Ms. McMahon’s apartment, The Wild Bird Fund opened a wildlife rehabilitation center on Columbus Avenue. Until then, New York was the only major city in the United States without one, McMahon said. The nonprofit organization aims to raise $330,000 each year from donations.  As a fundraiser Thursday evening, its showing the movie “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” starring Ben Kingsley. The event begins with at 6 p.m. at the headquarters of The Colonial Dames of America at 417 E. 61st Street.

In the first year, the staff treated 1,400 animals — mostly birds, from peregrine falcons to hummingbirds, and of course pigeons, along with woodchucks, chipmunks and assorted other wildlife. A turkey vulture was brought in with a broken wing after superstorm Sandy and now is at a rehabilitation center with another vulture.

One recent visitor to the center was David Usdan, a psychologist who has been looking after a clutch of about 10 ducklings that hatched on his building’s roof deck in May. He got food at the center and advice from Ms. Gewirtz on creating a pond out of  a plastic storage bin.

“There were a couple of mishaps with the ducklings, unfortunately,” he said. “I think five of them may have fallen off the roof. That was really sad.”

And then one day, two of the ducklings somehow made it to the street below. Traffic was stopped until they and the mother got safely to a parking lot next to Mr. Usdan’s building on 113th Street near Broadway.

“It was a crisis,” he said. “We had to figure out what to do. A big crowd was forming in front of the parking lot.”

He and his partner, Howard Brenner, shepherded the ducklings into a box, returned them to the roof and were relieved when the mother reappeared the next morning.  But since then another duckling has gone missing, and recently Ms. Gewirtz was plotting how to corral the remaining four.

She prefers to move the ducklings before they try to fly and risk falling to the sidewalk. They are eventually released in parks and on farms and estates.

“People who take care of these ducklings get super attached to them because they are adorable,” Ms. Gewirtz said.

Mr. Usdan said that he would be sorry to see his brood go, though he might get another visit next year. The mallards tend to return to the same place year after year.

Tina Chen, an actor and director who also lives on the Upper East Side, has had four clutches of eggs hatch on her terrace from what she thinks is a mother-daughter duo.  The first ducklings, though, were pelted to death by a fierce rainstorm.

“They were just so delicate,” she said. “It broke my heart.”

Determined to make sure the later ducklings survived, Ms. Chen fed them three times a day and kept them more than a month, in hindsight too long, she said.

A few weeks after Ms. Gewirtz moved them to Central Park, Ms. Chen went to try to find them. She believes she did.

“I looked and there were six ducks swimming as fast as they could,” she said. “When they got to the end of the pond, they jumped onto the ground and came towards me.”

But cleaning up after them was a lot of work, and at one point she erected owl and hawk decoys to try, unsuccessfully, to keep the female mallards away.

“I know they’re coming back,” she said. “They know this place, no matter how hard I try.”

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2013/06/23/rescuers-hatch-plan-for-ducks-that-land-on-manhattan-high-rises/

Groundsman finds duck nesting in OVEN!

For Missy the Muscovy duck, this dry and warm shelter would have appeared like the perfect place to create a nest for her eggs.

But the bird was dangerously close to becoming a roast duck after unwittingly setting up home in a large furnace.

Groundsman Mario Kopitski, 46, was shocked to discover the duck and twelve eggs nesting in the replica 5ft Norman smelting oven moments before he was about to light it.

Lucky duck: A groundsman was shocked to discover this duck nesting in a furnace - moments before he was due to light it Lucky duck: A groundsman was shocked to discover this duck nesting in a furnace – moments before he was due to light it

He was on his daily round of lighting three smelting ovens in the in the nine acre grounds of Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted, Essex, when he discovered the white duck and its eggs.

The 25-year-old replica oven is used for cooking bread and reaches temperatures of up to 200C.

Mr Kopitski said despite a variety of animals residing at the farm, including 25 other Muscovy ducks, peacocks and deer, none had ever made their nest in such an unusual place.

‘I’m so relieved I checked the oven when I did – otherwise poor Misty would have been toast,’ he said.

‘It was a real shock to see her sat there and I’m so pleased her and the eggs are safe.’

Home sweet home: The duck has now been allowed to remain in the furnace until her eggs hatchHome sweet home: The duck has now been allowed to remain in the furnace until her eggs hatch

Alan Goldsmith, who has been curator of the 200AD castle for thirty years, said the duck was incredibly lucky to be alive.

‘It’s awful to think that in a few seconds poor Missy could have been roast duck,’ he said.

‘We’ve decided to leave her there in peace until the eggs hatch in 28 days time and then her ducklings will join her around the grounds.

‘I just can’t get over what a close call she had, it’s been a complete surprise to all of us here.’

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1274401/Crispy-roast-duck-boiled-eggs-Groundsman-finds-duck-nesting-OVEN.html#ixzz2Wldd1GXQ


Muriel Garmson, from Newport, with the duckling which hatched in her knicker drawer. The animal is set to find a new home at Hoo Farm
Muriel Garmson, from Newport, with the duckling which hatched in her knicker drawer. The animal is set to find a new home at Hoo Farm

The adorable bird’s “mother” is Muriel Garmson, who was walking along Newport Canal when she spotted a small duck egg on the floor.

Unable to locate the nest, Mrs Garmson, 65, took the egg home and put it in the first warm place she could think of, nestled snugly in the drawer in the bedroom of her home in Broomfield Road, Newport.

Six days later the duckling was born – and he is now preparing to be adopted at Hoo Farm in Telford.

Retired Mrs Garmson said: “I took the egg home in my pocket and then put it in my knickers drawer to keep it warm with a hot water bottle.

“That was Thursday and then he finally hatched on Tuesday at 9.45am.

“I could hear some chirping when I got out of the shower and there he was.”

“I put him in a dog cage with cardboard around the edge and have arranged him have him homed at Hoo Farm.”

The black and yellow duckling has been nicknamed Quacker to Mrs Garmson’s friends, but she says she prefers to call him Hope because of the miraculous way it managed to survive against the odds.

Mrs Garmson said she rang a vet for advice on how to care for the new arrival but found that their knowledge of ducks was limited.

She resorted to asking friends for advice and says that Hope is now doing well and making himself very much at home.

“He was noisy at first but he has settled down now,” said Mrs Garmson.

“When I went to talk to him this morning he didn’t want me to leave the room. He thinks I’m his mummy.

“I’ll be sad to see him go, but he needs to be around other ducks.”

Source: http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2013/06/15/quacking-success-as-duck-egg-hatches-in-drawer-of-knickers/

Sitting ducks

Joyce Mori was just a newlywed in 1970 when she knew her marriage was for the birds – duck decoys, specifically.

Bill Mori took his bride on a memorable honeymoon across the Pacific Northwest and down to Colorado not in search of romantic hideaways but on the lookout for handcrafted wooden ducks once used by hunters to lure waterfowl within shooting range.

“We were stopping at every junk shop there was,” recalls Bill Mori, 85. “We were just learning.”

His collection now features 500 of the best duck decoys ever made. A retired Realtor and broker, Mori says the collection is worth every dollar he’s invested — and then some.

“I went crazy on these things,” he says. “I’d just as soon have decoys as a few extra dollars.”

Joyce Mori has long supported her husband’s passion, even dedicating display space in their living room for about 50 prized waterfowl.

At one point, the couple had 1,000 decoys in their home. By the time Bill Mori narrowed his collection to “quality, not quantity,” he’d become a go-to man for other collectors seeking information about carvers, styles and values.

In addition to his decoys, Mori has amassed about 400 books on the subject and has become something of an expert on duck decoys, widely valued as American folk art.

“I don’t want to sound like a braggart,” he says, “but I do know a lot about them.”

Born in the valley’s rural Vineburg region, Mori was just a teen when he and his older brother Carlos trekked to a “shack” near Skaggs Island where an old-timer carved decoys for duck hunters who frequented the nearby sloughs.

Mori remembers that the gravel-voiced man, Dick Janson, told the pair he’d carve the decoys if they provided the wood. The brothers returned with 25 old redwood railroad ties, which Janson crafted into a few dozen decoys.

At the time, Janson “was considered the greatest carver in California,” Mori says.

A Canada goose carved by Ben Schmidt in the 1940s, at left, and a Pacific brant carved by Paul Kenney in the 1930s. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat)

Janson charged the going rate back in 1944: $3 each or $36 for a dozen. Today collectible decoys go for a minimum of about $50 each – some topping a record $1 million for a lone bird.

Mori still has six of those Janson originals, which are among his favorites. He values the craftsmanship as well as the memory of an era long gone in Sonoma Valley.

Mori’s interest in collecting came at the urging of a few friends who were decoy collectors. The men shared resources and assisted one another, with a friendly competition keeping things lively.

“It was fun. It really was fun,” Mori says of his decades of collecting.

Today the duck hunter and decoy collector has one of the most impressive collections around, reportedly “the biggest collection west of the Mississippi,” Mori says.

Duck decoys date to the late 1800s, with early styles carved by hand to painstaking detail. Mori says the tradition began on the East Coast before moving west across the country.  Many antique decoys contain shot holes or grazes, which don’t necessarily lessen their value.

“All of them were made for hunting,” Mori says. “You don’t want a duck decoy that looks like it was just made.”

Although individual craftsmen continue the tradition today, there was a time when the demand for decoys opened the doors to factory productions. Artisans were employed to carve and paint the decoys for such factories as Mason’s Decoy Factory in Detroit, the most famous of the era in the late 1890s.

Mori knows all about the various grades of decoys by assessing the carving, painting variations (oil-based paints on the oldest decoys), even the kinds of eyes placed into the ducks, from tacks to realistic glass beads. The workmanship is part of the value and, as with most collections, the rarer the item, the greater its worth.

“It’s the reputation of the carver. His name gets around,” Mori says. “They were artists. It’s just like if you were buying art.”

Hand-carved decoys from the Mason Decoy Factory produced between 1900-1925. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The range of decoys is vast. There are puddle ducks and diving ducks, geese and swans. Some are hollow, others solid, some weighted, some not. While most collectible decoys are handcrafted of redwood, cedar, rosewood, balsawood and other timbers, some were made of canvas or cork, the contemporary ones even of plastic.

From pintails to mallards, hens and drakes, singles or in pairs, what does Mori notice first?

“I start with the good-looking ones, the old ones,” he says.

Each of his decoys is lifelike, almost all of them crafted to exact scale.

“They’re all life-size. Some were made oversize on purpose so the bird could see them from a distance,” he says. “If I put these out on the water I’d think they were real.”

Mori spent the past 45 years amassing his collection by attending decoy shows, rifling through thrift stores, junk shops and dusty old barns, reading want ads, making connections with fellow collectors, and finally, with the advent of the Internet, visiting online shops and auctions.

He once scored a handsome mallard drake in flight while checking his real estate listings in a Marin newspaper. He noticed an ad for a duck boat “and other things” under the miscellaneous offerings.

A phone call later, Mori was headed to Mill Valley to swap the requested $5 for the unwanted carving hanging in a little boy’s bedroom.

“I saw that thing and I couldn’t believe it. That was the best find I ever made,” Mori recalls.

Mori has received calls from museums, collectors and investors alike but has no interest in parting with any of his beloved birds. His decoy collection represents something more than money.

“We just love them. Joyce loves them, too,” he says. “I enjoy looking at the darn things. Even if they weren’t mine, they’re beautiful.”

Starting as souvenirs from a long-ago honeymoon, the ducks have steadily grown with the couple’s marriage.

Source: http://sonoma.towns.pressdemocrat.com/2013/06/news/duck-decoy-collection/