Rare admissions: Black-bellied whistling ducklings

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Four black-bellied whistling ducklings were among the ninety animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

Three black-bellied whistling ducklings were admitted after being found in some bushes on a lot that was being cleared. Not much information was available from the person who transported the ducklings to our facility but it was obvious the ducklings were debilitated. Later the same day, a fourth duckling was admitted from the same location after its nest tree was felled. Finally, the hospital staff fully understood the situation; all of the ducklings jumped or fell from their nest tree during the excavation and tree removal occurring on the property.

The ducklings received pain medications and supplemental oxygen in an animal intensive care unit. As the pain medications took effect, the ducklings became more alert and responsive and were eager to eat the diet staff offered in a shallow tub of water. Visit the Conservancy’s Facebook page to view a video of the ducklings eating. The ducklings have spectacular markings, voracious appetites and are currently recovering in the bird room at the hospital.

Less than 10 black-bellied whistling ducks have been admitted to our facility over the past twenty years; their husbandry needs are quite different from the mottled ducklings we regularly admit and care for.

Keep in mind it is still breeding and nesting season for many species of wildlife in our area. Please make sure you check, or ask your landscaper to check, trees, yards and flowerbeds before trimming and clearing. If there is an active nest, avoid trimming until the babies no longer need the nest for protection. Staff at the wildlife hospital has extensive knowledge about the nesting habits of native wildlife. Call before taking any action if you encounter an active nest so staff can ensure the safety of the animals involved.

Recent Releases

Three raccoons, two barn swallows, an eastern cottontail, a red-shouldered hawk, a laughing gull, four mourning doves, two grey squirrels and an eastern screech owl were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to view all of the amazing work done by staff and volunteers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital and help us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

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