Another Lucky Duck

By Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator

Last week we received some calls about a duck struggling under a dock, near the Belmont in Harwich.  It was caught on something and could not fly or swim away, and just kept circling around a piling.  Our wonderful Staff member, Jayne Fowler, saved the day with the help of her son, Jordan.  They safely contained the duck using a net, assessing that it had a long line tethered to its right leg.  Jayne gathered up all the seaweed-laden line, and cut the bulk of it away from the duck.  Leaving any of this line in the water would only cause harm to another unsuspecting animal.  The duck was admitted to Wild Care terrified, and was so exhausted that it could barely flap its wings.  This was a young male Common Eider whose body condition was healthy and strong.   Telling us that it only recently became entangled.  We carefully unknotted the line, and snipped and uncoiled it from the bird’s leg. It was wrapped very tightly and had stopped circulation to the foot.  Luckily, the skin was only slightly abraded and the line had not severed through the skin, or any of the tendons yet.

Jayne had gotten there in time!  The dangling foot was much colder then the other foot, so we rubbed it to stimulate blood flow.  Fortunately, it warmed up within a few minutes.  The hock joint had been very stressed by the frantic duck.  Fortunately it was not dislocated or broken, it was only badly swollen. All in all, this was a pretty good situation. After a few days of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), great food (eggs,clams, scallops, krill,fish,) and swim time, this eider was ready to go home.  Jayne brought him back to Nantucket Sound in West Harwich, she said he gave her ‘’a look’’ before he flew away… A very happy ending!

*Please always pick up any strings or fishing tackle you find on the beach and safely dispose of it.  Read about Wild Care’s Initiative to reduce marine fishing-related debris in the marine environment: Trash Your Tackle – Save Our Seabirds.

Rescue and release photos by Jayne Fowler. Eider in pool, by Kerry Reid.



If you find an animal in
distress, please call us at:


Our helpline and our facility
are open EVERY DAY from
9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
We are located at the
Orleans rotary (on the Eastham side).

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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!