I have a newly-hatched duckling that was dying from cold this morning snuggling up on my shoulder trying to get underneath my hair (I suppose he/she thinks they are feathers). I knew that I would regret returning the chilled eggs/duckling to the neglectful momma duck that left me with blood blisters yesterday evening, and I was right. One of the eggs that was peeping peevishly hatched in the night and she let it die from the cold. The first hatched duckling appears to be fine, for now. The one on my shoulder was lying flat out, nearly dead from the cold, and I only had time to bring it inside, put it on a heating pad inside a large Rubbermaid tub, and cover it with a “blanket” (dust cloth) before I left for work this morning. I expected it to be dead but he/she was lively and peeping. She was very happy to see me!
This evening, duckling is lively and moving about. I could have (and probably should have) returned him to Momma Duck but….if he/she doesn’t die from the cold, he/she will surely die from the hawks (that have a nest in an old tree in the pasture) swooping down to eat him/her and any sibs when Momma Duck runs off to get some corn, leaving the new hatchlings to fend for themselves.
Somebody better let me know when H5N1 arrives in this country so I can refrain from mothering tiny, vulnerable poultry.