Lending a helping hand to waterfowl

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Lebanon - posted Tue., Sep. 10, 2013
Grey China/Toulouse mix Pastel is described as a very gentle and friendly gander with a penchant for grass and watermelon. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Grey China/Toulouse mix Pastel is described as a very gentle and friendly gander with a penchant for grass and watermelon. Photos by Melanie Savage.

Several years ago, Lebanon resident Kim Link obtained two ducks. Ducks are imprinting animals, and form extremely strong bonds. Link said that, as they grew, “They were so madly in love with me that it became distracting.” So she set out to obtain some companions for the boys.

Link adopted two female ducks from a rescue situation. “It was just so rewarding to take them from a place that was really bad, fix them up, and make them really happy,” said Link. And so began the Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, a non-profit dedicated to finding homes for abandoned waterfowl.

During the process of adopting the girls, “We really became aware of the need,” said Link. While there are plenty of rescues for dogs, cats and horses, there are very few for ducks and geese. “We always knew we wanted to do a rescue of some kind,” said Link. “So we thought, let’s do one where there’s the most need.”

Many ducks and geese become homeless as a result of impulse buys during the Easter season. People purchase cute little ducklings without adequately planning for their future needs. “They grow fast. They get very messy. People don’t realize what they’re getting into,” said Link. So many ducks and geese are unceremoniously dumped when they start to reach mature size. Pekin duck Piper, for example, was dropped off at a drainage ditch with another duckling. Piper’s companion was killed. “We think it was a hawk or something,” said Link. Some good Samaritans lured Piper out of a drain pipe, where he had retreated to escape the predator. Piper is now 5 years old, and living at Majestic Waterfowl with the love of his life, female Pekin duck, Mercy.

Mercy came to the rescue at the age of 4 months eating only people food. She was imprinted on people. “So it’s very traumatic for them,” said Link. “They lose their mother, their companion, everything.” Mercy was slowly weaned onto a diet of crumbled duck food, water and earthworms. “Because they absolutely love earthworms,” said Link.

Other birds, such as brown Rouen LeeLoo and Pekin duck Waverly, end up homeless as a result of hatching projects conducted at home or at school. “Sometimes they’ll hatch a duck out for each student and send them home with them,” said Link. “Many families have no idea what’s required to care for them.”

Majestic Waterfowl currently houses approximately 25 birds, most of which are available for adoption. They live in pens, most in groups of two or more, each with its own, individual wading pond. There is also a large pond that birds are rotated into on a schedule. Pens are predator-proof and spacious. All of the sanctuary’s pens are currently being refurbished, to allow for easier maintenance.

“In the winter time, my husband and I are out here all night long when it snows,” said Link. Wood enclosures are being rebuilt for more stability, and flexible net roofs are being replaced with sturdy wire mesh that can support the weight of a heavy snowstorm or human traffic. Help with the rebuilds is one of the areas where Link could most use volunteers. Construction experience would be good, “But just someone to help hold the beams would be great,” said Link, adding that a simple extra pair of hands would reduce a three-day job to one day.

While the rescue has a dedicated core of volunteers and donors, there is always a need for more. There are always animals in need of assistance, and there is always work to be done. Chores include mucking out ponds in the spring, shoveling and snow-blowing paths in the winter, pruning trees, and turning over the ground to facilitate the growth of edible vegetation.

“It’s hard work, but we have a lot of fun,” said Link. “When you’re having a really lousy day, come out and sit and watch these guys,” she added. “They’re funny, they’re happy, and they’re fun to watch. You’ll be happy in spite of yourself.”

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, located in Lebanon, has a website full of information about waterfowl at www.majesticwaterfowl.org. Donations are always needed. Despite the assistance of Dr. Otka at the Noank-Mystic Veterinary Hospital (“We couldn’t afford all of our vet care if it weren’t for him,” said Link), veterinary bills are a constant occurrence.  An autumn delivery of feed is on the way, and must be paid for. Make a donation, fill out an application to volunteer, or peruse the birds available for adoption through the website.


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