In late January a Medford woman brought in a mallard duck she found soaked in diesel. She knew being covered in diesel couldn’t be good for the bird so she headed to Wildlife Images’ Clinic with the mallard in tow. It was the right decision because the diesel causes one of the same problems an oil spill does. Being coated in diesel destroyed the patient’s natural water-proofing.
Patient #18-021 covered in diesel with no waterproofing
Ducks and many other bird species have a glad on their backside that produces a specialized oil to keep their feathers waterproof. The uropygial gland is great at spot jobs… like new growth, but it simply cannot create enough oil for a duck to water-proof all its feathers overnight. Which is why patient 18-021 spent several nights, almost three weeks to be exact, in our clinic.
While he was here he got a warm (and dry!) bed, good food, and several baths as we worked to clean the diesel off and assess how water-proof he was. The first baths were diluted with Dawn dish soap which is the same product used to clean animals during oil spills.
Fully waterproof and ready for release!
Eventually, the mallard enjoyed paddling around in our clinic tub a little too much and our Animal Care Specialists realized it was time for release. On February 17th a fully water-proofed patient was released back into the wild at Denman Wildlife Area.