Ruddy cold for a Ruddy duck!

P2220081“Oy, wot’s a ruddy duck doing here, aye wot?”

Okay, so maybe I didn’t need to use the Eliza Doolittle accent, but really, what’s a ruddy duck doing in Red Lake, Ontario in mid-February when its averaging -30C? Besides freezing and starving to death?

When my friend Lori phoned me about a duck that had been found at Forestry Point in Red Lake, stuck in a snowbank, I was, to say the least, surprised. The photo she emailed confirmed its identity. Ruddy ducks are not a common bird in northwestern Ontario, but broods have been seen south of Red Lake on a river system in the summer. But the time of year this hen appeared is baffling.

Lori cared for the little duck until she could get it delivered to me, keeping it warm and dry, feeding it shrimp and chopped lettuce.

My initial assessment proved she was extremely emaciated, her keel jutted out like a knife. She had a strong ketone smell indicating just how much her poor little body was eating away itself.

Each day Snippy (as Lori had appropriately named this pugnacious little tyke) seems to get stronger and stronger. Her diet currently consists of raw shrimp, mealworms, chick grower, and chopped spinach…and whatever skin she peels off my fingers as she impatiently waits for me to set down her food dish.

While she is not out of the woods yet, she is at least out of the cold and the snowbank…fingers crossed for her full recovery.

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