Sunday, October 26, 2014

Story of a Dumped Duck

This was a story I published about a year and a half ago about "Bitey", a male Pekin duck.  I miss Bitey a lot and think of him often.  I still don't know what happened to him, but I hope he ended up in a safe place with lots of food, nice people, and girls galore.

"Bitey" was a pekin duck that was dumped off at Lake Murray in the fall of 2012. Many ducks are dumped off in the fall months, usually about six months after Easter. Last year, a large number of domestic ducks were dropped off at the lake. People dump ducks for various reasons. They are either sick of having them, can't keep them any longer, or think that ducks belong near a lake or waterway. What's worse is that the general public doesn't seem to notice that these ducks don't belong at the lake. They see the same white ducks year after year possibly thinking they're the same ducks they see all the time not knowing they don't live long.
When Bitey first arrived, he behaved like any other dumped duck. He began socializing with an older, previously dumped pekin and both became very good friends. This older duck showed Bitey where to get food and girlfriends. Bitey didn't stand out in any way. Then, something changed in the spring and Bitey's behavior began to change, too.

Bitey liked eating out of that small bowl
In spring, duck hormones change and many male ducks get frustrated and agitated. Bitey no longer wanted to be near any other ducks. Other male ducks, even ducks smaller than him, began to attack and chase him around. One thing that began to be a real problem with Bitey is that he began to act strange around people. He didn't move if you walked up to him and he would bite if you tried to touch him. He would also bite you if he wanted you to feed him, sometimes biting really hard. It's not abnormal for domestic drakes (male ducks) to get a little bitey during breeding season, especially. But, most of the other drakes at the lake never let humans get close.
He would spill food, but choose to eat out of the bowl
It wasn't that Bitey wasn't afraid of people. He actually was terrified of them. When I picked him up one time, I could feel how scared he was. But, he wouldn't move away like the other ducks did. As a result, he was the potential subject of abuse. So, I worked to find him a home. I couldn't take him, myself, as my apartment complex doesn't allow animals, except cats, not even temporarily. So, I let him stay at the lake while I put the word out.
After a month of not getting anyone to take him in, Bitey disappeared. No one knows what happened to him. Another duck in the same area was left there and was fine. I did find a small clump of white feathers that looked like they were plucked near where he slept, but Bitey sometimes did that to himself. Or, one of the other ducks could have done that to him. Other than that, there was no sign of him at all. I hope someone took him home. He was there about eight or nine months. A few weeks after Bitey disappeared, two more ducks were dumped near the same area. Within a couple of days, one had disappeared with no trace, as well. The average lifespan of a dumped duck is less than three years.
I have a Squidoo lens on dumped ducks, including Bitey.  But, they're being transitioned over to HubPages.  Check back soon for the new link.

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