The Moore American

November 27, 2013

Weekend sleet leaves sitting ducks in need of helping hands

By Jocelyn Pedersen
The Moore American

NOBLE — A flock of ruddy ducks migrating south were overcome with sleet and landed on glistening roads in Noble and surrounding areas this weekend. 

Rondi Large, Director of WildCare Foundation said ruddy ducks generally migrate at night — just when the icy weather was coming through. She pointed out that dark, wet roads glisten like a lake or pond and when the ducks came in for a landing with iced over wings and tail feathers, they hit pavement, kind of “crash diving,” as Large put it.

Some of the ducks had minor foot lacerations and beak wounds, but Large said, “luckily most were just cold.”

So far, 24 of the stranded ducks have been brought to and treated by WildCare at 7601 84th St., in Noble, and Large said she received a call that more were on their way in.

Ruddy ducks need water to build momentum and become airborne. So, since the birds landed on pavement, they’re literally sitting ducks. Noble residents, including Austin Lee, have been picking the little ducks up and taking them to WildCare for treatment prior to release. Lee rescued four and was trying to catch a fifth when a car deliberately ran over it in front of him, Large said.

These migratory ducks winter along the coast in bays or in unfrozen ponds and lakes. Oklahoma City, Norman and Noble are in the central flyway for birds that migrate south to warmer climes and even into Mexico.

The volunteers at WildCare have treated and warmed the birds and will take them to Lake Thunderbird for release as a flock.

“The sooner we get them on their migration, the better off they’ll be,” Large said.

She encourages people who see the little ducks to please pick them up and bring them to WildCare.

“They do need to be picked up because they cannot fly unless released in water,” Large said, adding that releasing them as a flock is ideal.

WildCare helps care for and rehabilitate wild animals that have been injured or orphaned. The nonprofit agency relies on donations to help animals. Currently, along with the ducks, there are two golden eagles being treated at the facility. One had to have surgery to place pins in a broken wing and the other is being treated for a bacterial infection. WildCare’s ultimate goal is to release animals back to their natural habitats, when possible.

Those interested in donating may do so by mailing contributions to WildCare Foundation, 7601 84th St., Noble, OK 73058, or by visiting wildcareoklahoma.org and using a credit card.