Lucky Marisol - Saved from Death

Marisol's First Place Blue Ribbon for Most Photogenic photo contest by Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, 2016.
Marisol is one lucky duck. It's probably safe to say she is only alive because I heard her quack, recognized her call as a duck in distress, and decided to take a walk down the block to see if I could locate where she was calling from. Some time earlier, within a few months, another incident occurred after my duck hens had quacked loudly all day long and a duck tried to cross a busy street a block away and was hit by cars. What was with all these people getting pet ducks and then not taking care of them properly?

At the time, I wondered if the little brown hen who was hit by a car was trying to make her way to my flock because she was lonely. That would sure explain the loud quacking of my flock all day--calling out to her, perhaps. It was a sad situation. A reminder to never raise a duck alone and always keep them in a safe pen.

But Marisol, the Pekin who quacked desperately from a backyard about a block away from me, was lucky. I asked a man who stood on his porch where the duck might be and he referred me to the house next door. The people who lived there answered, stating that they had planned to "set Aflac free at a park soon". They were happy I had come for her. 
 "Aflac" had been one of two ducks, the other having died--something to do with pneumonia, the people said, from being given a warm bath during freezing winter. "Aflac" had suffered a sprained leg at one point due to the boy she belonged to throwing her up in the air, expecting that she'd fly. He and his dad had splinted her leg at one point and said she walked with a limp. Her eyes were runny, encased in black eye boogers that made it look as if she'd been crying. Her bill was covered in latex paint (because she'd been drinking it, perhaps because she didn't have food or water). The people said she ate popcorn. That's what she had been eating. The yard they'd kept her in was littered with trash: metal, paint cans, etc. She'd never even laid an egg.  As I picked her up in my arms, she felt light, bony. I felt relieved, proud of her that she'd called out so loudly for help. I was patient with the people, although I wished people would not do these things. I did tell them it is illegal to dump ducks. And pretty much the first words out of my mouth when they opened the door were, "Can I take your duck?"

The first thing I did, after giving her food and water, of course, was tell her she would have a new life, that her old name "Aflac" would disintegrate with her past, that she would have fresh water, all the food she could ever dream of, and friends. I watched her closely for signs of organ failure, and for days all she did was eat, drink, and rest.

The most important task was to bathe her, she was filthy, using Dawn dish soap to get the dirt out of her ragged feathers (she had never had the energy to molt or lay eggs) and soak her bill so the paint would soften, enabling me to peel it from her bill. I used a toothpick to clean the paint from the fine crevices on the underside of her bill. 

Once the paint was removed, I saw that she'd suffered a puncture wound that had mostly healed, but had at one time perforated through the top of her bill into her mouth.

I could not expect her feathers to look healthy right away as she'd been through so much and suffered such malnutrition she not only lacked the energy to groom, but it was doubtful her oil gland operated well.

I had personally never seen such a skinny Pekin. At first I thought her neck had been injured, because it appeared crooked.



Such a sad sight, watching as she held her head down in her water dish. She needed a lot of rest and nourishment. This went on for a many days. Her eyes also continued to tear, so I washed them with eye rinse.

Marisol became "Aflac's" new name. Slowly, she gained weight and I soon discovered her neck had not been injured at all, she'd just been so emaciated that her neck looked out of proportion to the rest of her big Pekin body.

My Chinese swan gander, Freddie, quickly took a liking to Marisol, allowing her to accompany him in the pool and showing a tendency to protect her.

Over time, Marisol's eyes stopped running, her bill took on a darker orange color, she molted, and began laying the biggest eggs I'd ever seen from a duck. At times I've worried that she eats too much, because she became rather hefty. I decided that it's better to let her love life and indulge in food all she wants, since she had lived such a horrible life before. 


Not only does Marisol have friends (here she is pictured with Louise), but she has all the food she can eat, oyster shell, fresh water, a large swimming pool, and a predator-proof shelter. Her life has turned around 100%.

Ming and Marisol forage in the yard in June 2016.



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