Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘Ducks’

August 9, 2011

Duck Die-Off in the Ballona Wetlands

International Bird Rescue (Bird Rescue) is responding to a possible botulism incident on the Ballona Creek in Los Angeles, CA that has already resulted in the death of over 60 Mallard Ducks. 19 live Ducks and an American Coot (and two pelicans that were not a part of the incident – one tangled in fishing line, and the other emaciated) were captured and brought to International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center; 5 of the Ducks later perished.

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Botulism is a condition brought on by the consumption of a naturally occurring toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Usually, the first sign of this sickness involves partial paralysis of the birds. Early stages might show only the nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, being paralyzed, followed by larger muscle groups. Ultimately, the ducks are unable to move and drown.

Botulism outbreaks affect many water birds species, especially waterfowl, every year in summer and fall when wetlands are dryer and there are large concentrations of birds. The toxin can be passed on through ingestion of maggots from decaying bodies. These events can be managed by picking up all dead birds, and collecting affected live ones on a daily basis. Ducks with botulism respond well to an aggressive fluid therapy treatment. Bird Rescue’s typical release rate is from 80% to 90% if the birds are captured treated in time.

Since this is a naturally occurring phenomenon, there is little that can be done to prevent it, but International Bird Rescue will mitigate the effects by having a proactive search, collection and rescue system in place.



February 17, 2011

Duck Doing Well After Treatment for a Belly Full of Lead

A male mallard is in recovery this week after the successful removal of BB pellets from his stomach by International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) staff.

The drake arrived in late January at IBRRC’s Southern California center, and was not able to stand or walk. He was very dehydrated, had poor blood values, and was clearly in distress

When he was x-rayed, IBRRC staff discovered approximately 30 BBs in his stomach.

On February 1, staff members anesthetized the mallard and flushed out the pellets, using warm water and gavage tubing. Two days later he was able to stand again, and began recovery in Bird Rescue’s warm water hospital pools.

He is improving each day.

IBRRC has been saving aquatic birds around the world since 1971, and is a world leader in emergency response, rehabilitation, research and education. Its team of specialists has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in 11 States, two U.S. territories, and 7 different countries. Bird rescue is equally proud of the care it provides to the 5,000 injured, hungry, or orphaned birds that come into its centers each year. It is committed to ensuring that every bird impacted by changes to their environment is given hope to survive and thrive.

June 7, 2009

Two ducks recovering after "plastic surgery"

This spring, IBRRC’s San Pedro facility took into care two female mallards with head injuries sustained during breeding. Mallards are known for their aggressive mating practices, during which females can become injured or even drown.

Both mallards had extensive trauma to the scalp, with few to no remaining feathers. The skin had become jerky-like and attached to the skull. This tightened area suffered reduced blood flow, which created a risk of infection. In addition, the bird’s vision was occluded due to tension pulling the lower eyelids upward. Without full vision, a mallard is seriously disadvantaged in the wild.

In a procedure akin to “plastic surgery for ducks,” Dr. Heather Nevill and IBRRC staff gave the girls a new lease on life. Called a “sliding advancement flap,” a portion of skin on the head is surgically loosened and pulled forward, allowing blood supply to return and the bird to regain normal use of its eyelids.

The birds are currently recovering at IBRRC and at the end of their rehabilitation will be released to the wild.

Heather Nevill, DVM, is a clinical veternarian and research coordinator for International Bird Rescue Research Center.