Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Shy's "Miracle" chick
Today, I was delighted to see that Shy and her mate had a cute three week old chick in tow. I thought I also heard at least one, possibly two hiding in the brush. Last April, they had lost a set of four eggs. I had no idea that they had a nest, probably starting in the beginning of May. But, today, she was seen with a little fuzzy almost grown female.
Now, here's the problem. I didn't notice it at first, but this chick is missing half of it's skull. It appears that her brains are partially hanging out in the back at the top of the neck. I think there is skin covering it, though. It' amazing that she's lived this long with this issue. I've named her Miracle because it's a miracle that she's made it to almost adulthood.
Dad and mom let me get real close to get some photos, but I couldn't get a good one of the back of her head. The chick was eating normally, running around, playing and keeping warm under her dad. The Cooper's hawk tried to get her a couple of times, but mom or dad jumped out to distract it. She seems to be unafraid of anything and I'm wondering about her eyesight, though she seems to be able to see the bugs she wants to eat. I think Shy and her mate suspect something's wrong with her. Here's a photo of her trying to get through the fence so that she can eat bugs on the other side.
After looking at all the photos, it appears that only the skin/feathers of Miracle's head were affected. It almost looks like the skin couldn't keep up with the growth of the head. It appears that only the outer layers of the skin were affected. The head shape actually looks reasonably normal. The family does have a history of crests and problems with their head feathers. She does have some problems with her peripheral vision due to a skin flap near her eyes. It is still unknown how long she can survive with the problem or if it will correct itself. It's likely that she's had this for at least a few days up to about a week.
In ducklings news, Poquito (Pip and Peeper's brother) is missing. Last I saw him, he was being fed by two men at the lake. I hope he wasn't taken. Pip and Peeper, by the way, are expected to be released from Project Wildlife soon, perhaps this week.
A few days ago, the family of six ducklings in Cowles' Bay seemed to be down to three. But, it's possible that the three I saw here duckling-napped by another female. I found these two females fighting over the three ducklings in the photo above. The ducklings followed both females. I haven't seen either female or any ducklings since.
Today, I saw the "bossy" ducklings:
And, Ducky's ducklings were seen, too. However, I don't think one of them is Ducky's. It looks like a gadwall or maybe even a wood duck a little bit.
The boat dock ducklings are down to six, but no worries. One just likes to go off by herself now and then. I haven't been able to get a good photo of them, lately. They're over 8 weeks old now and almost had their flight feathers when I last saw them.