I had a horrible experience at our duck pond on the weekend with a duckling
I'm hoping someone will read this and might be able to answer my question of what was wrong.
I was watching a family of mallards (mama and 7 babies) swimming around and eating for 30 minutes.. all the babies appeared to be fine as they played and explored.. it was so cute to watch.. they looked all so happy. After awhile while I was standing on the shore I noticed one of the babies approach me (which was odd because they are usually afraid of people) and come onto land. Mama and the rest of the crew were FAR away at this point and he just sat there looking around about 5 feet away from me. I watched him carefully and he started having a hard time walking.. he kept losing his balance and getting stuck on his back thrashing his feet around. I didn't know whether I should handle the little guy or not but my heart was breaking so I turned him around so he could stand again. After a few minutes he walked into a bunch of bushes and got tangled and couldn't move.. I noticed his head kept tilting to one side like he couldn't keep it up.. it looked like he kept dozing off and snapping awake but I knew that wasn't the case. I didn't want to have to handle him again because I don't like interferring with nature or running the risk of the mama abandoning baby if she could smell me on him (I didn't know if ducks were like this because I know lots of other birds are) but I ended up getting him untangled and I took him closer to where his family was swimming. While I was holding him his head balance was getting way worse.. it kept falling from side to side and I knew for sure at that point something was terribly wrong
He cuddled into my jacket as I carried him and put him back into the water. He made a couple of chirpy noises and swam back to shore at my feet and sat there.. he couldn't keep his head up at this point. I stood there with him at my feet in hyterics not knowing what to do for the poor baby.. I couldn't track down anyone to help me on the phone or tell me what to do so I was completely helpless and baby was getting worse by the second. I picked him up and put him in a less exposed area slightly under a bush because it was raining and then baby started having violent seizures. I started crying and I asked my boyfriend to watch him while I made another phone call but I found out a local wild bird specialist retired and no longer had a contact number so there was nothing I could do. Baby got worse, his seizures more violent and he was laying on his side with his head on the ground thrashing everywhere, it was absolutely horrible. I knew at that point baby wasn't going to make it but I just didn't have the heart to end his little life so he wouldn't suffer anymore. Within 2 minutes he passed away.. I was thankful it was fairly quickly. We buried the poor sweet baby at the pond close to shore.
My question is does anyone have ANY idea what could have caused this? Birth defect or disease? I know it's hard to tell what happened by just hearing my story but any help at all would be appreciated. He was fine when he was swimming around and it seemed to have happened out of nowhere. I looked online and couldn't find any answers.. I'm at a total loss. I can't stop thinking about the poor baby and I won't be able to stop until I find an answer.
I will never forget this sweet baby for the rest of my life. I cried for a long time afterwards thinking about the cruelty of nature.. I wish I knew what happened