One of the baby ducks (not really babies anymore though, since they are now larger than the mama!) was injured about three weeks ago. I came out to feed them one morning and discovered it under the solar panels, unable to walk. I carried it into the house, looked it over to see if I could discover what was wrong with it. I couldn’t see anything drastically wrong, no blood, gashes, or broken bones, so I made it comfortable in one of our old dog cages. It wasn’t happy with us, and complained most of the day, but with it not being able to run from predators I wasn’t about to leave it outside.
Over the next few days we took care of it, giving it food and water and checking it’s leg, which we discovered was swollen, but not visibly broken. It was still very unhappy about being separated from it’s family and kept inside in a cage. It mostly just sat in a corner and sulked, occasionally squawking at us.
About 5 days after bringing it in I put it in the shower to let it bathe and to assess how much healing had occurred. It loved being in the shower. This was the first time it tried to get up and walk around too. While it was still having trouble, and frequently needed to sit down to rest, it was definitely able to both walk and run.
At this point we made the difficult decision to put it back outside with it’s family. We did this for two reasons. The first being the need to motivate it to get up and walk around. It wasn’t walking in the cage and we couldn’t let it out in the house. We were afraid that by keeping it in the cage it would cause it’s good muscles to atrophy and we didn’t want that. The second reason was rooted in the close bond ducks form with their family members. We didn’t want the duck to get depressed, or for that bond to be disrupted.
Knowing that we could be putting the duck in danger by letting it back out, we went ahead and did it anyway. It immediately ran to be with it’s siblings, which was really nice to see. Over the next ten days it struggled to keep up, often sitting by itself while the rest of the ducks ran around. However, as of yesterday, it looks like it has completely recovered! While the situation could have ended very differently, I am glad we made the decision to let him out earlier.
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