YORK, ME (WGME/CNN) - The 11 baby mallard ducks are less than a week old, and three of them are “kind of runty,” said Sonja Ahlberg, who heads the medical clinic at the Center for Wildlife in York. She said all the ducks are healthy.
But how they got here is a story in itself. A dozen mallard eggs were found in a nest under a bush at a Portsmouth Hotel.
“I got a call from the hotel saying that there was a mother mallard that had gotten killed and had a nest with 12 eggs in it,” said Bonnie Robinson, an officer with Portsmouth Animal Control.
Robinson, who said a red-tailed hawk killed the mother, gathered the eggs, brought them home and put them in an incubator. Eight of the eggs hatched on Sunday, two of them on Monday and one on Tuesday.
The next day, Robinson brought the ducklings to the Center for Wildlife.
“We’re really thankful that once they hatched she brought them right here, and that way we can raise them, have them on appropriate food and husbandry, and make sure that they grow up wild and releasable,” Ahlberg said.
The baby ducks are getting more active. In fact, in the next few days, they will be placed in a larger enclosure to give them more room to move around and to spread their wings.
Ahlberg said the ducklings will be ready to be released by the end of summer. That’s when it’s hoped that their instincts will take over.
Wildlife experts say the ducks will eventually need to find a surrogate family to take them in. Only other ducks can teach them where to forage for food and how to avoid predators. That could by tricky, since mallards can be picky about taking in babies that are not their own.
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