Why did the ducklings cross the road?
They may be very cute and exceedingly fluffy, but sadly road safety awareness is not on the list of duckling attributes, which is why the guys at Oxford Bird Rescue are wanting to highlight duckling season.
Scott and Tracey Bowman already have about 20 baby ducks in their care because of road accidents in which the ducklings have either been hit or orphaned while crossing the road. The couple have been in the bird rescue business for a number of years and say some years are worse than others.
‘‘A couple of years ago we had hundreds of ducklings,’’ said Scott. ’’Maybe it was just a baby boom for the parents that year, but you never know from year to year.’’
Tracey said they wanted to get a message to road users to be extra vigilant for the next few weeks while there was the possibility of duckling processions crossing the road.
‘‘Obviously you can’t always stop safely with cars behind you, but if it is safe to brake, please do so.’’
People often did not differentiate between shooting a duck out of the sky and running them over on the roads, Scott said, but it was heart-breaking to see the effects on the ducks.
‘‘You have only got to see a dead mum on the road with all her babies cuddled around her, or a mum whose babies have fallen down a drain. They definitely have feelings.’’
While there were some ducklings around already, many more mums would be sitting on their nests now, so over the next month there would be an increase in ducks crossing the roads.
Tracey and Scott spend much of their spare time on the not-soglamourous task of cleaning up after the ‘‘pooey little buggers’’, although fortunately they are natural foragers so they don’t need feeding round the clock like some of the others in their care.
Because the couple run the bird rescue in their own time from their home, they have had to put a limit on the service they can provide and therefore would rather raise awareness to prevent the ducklings needing to be brought in to begin with. They also have other birds to look after including one blind and one injured owl, and a pair of plovers. In the past they have helped more exotic species including a white heron, a pukeko and a weka, as well as taking on hawks through the winter.
While they have a lot of support from the SPCA and others who provide food, they are always short of towels and would welcome more cleaning products too. They hope to become a charity soon so they will be able to accept donations for things like petrol which is a big cost for their operation, and for which they currently pay out of their own pockets.
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One of this season’s ducklings being rehabilitated ready for release from Oxford Bird Rescue. Owners Scott and Tracey Bowman want to alert people to the potential of ducks crossing the road at this time of year.